Defendants claim they are immune from fraud charges as sovereign citizens

Jul 27, 2022, 6:04 PM
Herriman City information sign. A herriman man was just charged in texas for fraud...
Herriman's city information sign is pictured on Tuesday, Feb. 25, 2020. (Scott G Winterton/Deseret News)
(Scott G Winterton/Deseret News)

HERRIMAN, Utah — Three defendants in a complicated fraud investigation, including a man from Herriman, claim they cannot be prosecuted because of their status as “sovereign citizens.” 

62-year-old Stephen Crabtree of Herriman faces accusations of conspiring to defraud mortgage lenders, banks, and government agencies.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Houston said Crabtree and two others charged in the case evaded law enforcement for several months before their arrests earlier this month. The Justice Department credited a number of local and federal agencies for assisting in Crabtree’s arrest in Utah, including Unified Police, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, U.S. Marshals, and South Jordan, Riverton and Herriman police departments. 

Prosecutors allege the three sent numerous letters to federal agencies and the courts claiming to their sovereign citizenship renders them immune from prosecution. 

What are sovereign citizens?

The FBI defines sovereign citizens as anti-government extremists. They believe that even though they physically reside in this country, they are separate or ‘sovereign’ from the United States.

Read more: FBI Confidential: Deadly encounters with sovereign citizens

Supervisory Special Agent Juan Garcia works with the FBI’s Salt Lake City division. He told the KSL podcast “FBI Confidential” that sovereign citizens don’t believe they have to answer to any government authority. This includes courts, taxing entities and law enforcement.

As an example, Garcia said, “They believe they have the right to travel without license plates. They believe they don’t need driver’s license[s] for example, so they create their own fake drivers license[s].”

Garcia said the FBI does work with other law enforcement to make sure sovereign citizens are not a threat.

A statement from the U.S. Attorney said Crabtree faces accusations of conspiracy to commit wire fraud. 

He is also accused of recruiting others, including family members, to participate in a credit repair scheme that involved false reports of identity theft and obtaining credit cards and loans with false information.

Contributing: Mark Jackson and Becky Bruce

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Send it to the KSL NewsRadio team here.

Today’s Top Stories

Crime, Police + Courts

New Utah State Correctional Facility fails to give appropriate medication to inmates....
Mark Jones

Correctional officer assaulted at Utah State Correctional Facility

The Utah Department of Corrections says a correctional officer was assaulted Monday inside the Antelope Housing Unit at the Utah State Correctional Facility. The officer was hospitalized, but later released.
1 day ago
Centerville Police department...
Elizabeth Weiler

Centerville Police restate “guardian over warrior” mantra

"Our role in Centerville and in policing in general ... is as a Guardian instead of the Warrior" Sgt. Dingman said. "The relationships we build with the community and how they are treated by our officers is still a priority."
1 day ago
A west valley police car is pictured. Police are investigating a hit and run...
Elizabeth Weiler

Two employees found unconscious at Northrop Grumman, died later at hospital

Two employees who were reported unconscious at Northrop Grumman Space Systems on Monday later died at a hospital.
1 day ago
Drivers are being asked to avoid the area of 1200 West and 600 North after a fatal auto-pedestrian ...
Simone Siekaly and Adam Small

Police investigating fatal auto-pedestrian crash in Salt Lake City

Drivers are being asked to avoid the area of 1200 West and 600 North after a fatal auto-pedestrian accident.
1 day ago
Police are investigating a double homicide that happened in Taylorsville overnight. According to Sg...
Amie Schaeffer

Suspect still at large after double homicide in Taylorsville

Two males were found dead in a car at the Atherton Apartments in Taylorsville on Sunday, Jan. 30, 2023. The homicide suspect fled the scene.
1 day ago
Fallout from the deadly police beating of Black motorist Tyre Nichols now includes the firing of t...
Steve Almasy, Mark Morales, Holly Yan and Nick Valencia, CNN

Other EMT, police, fired or on leave after Tyre Nichols’ deadly beating

An investigation concluded that the two EMTs "failed to conduct an adequate patient assessment of Mr. Nichols."
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

Banner with Cervical Cancer Awareness Realistic Ribbon...
Intermountain Health

Five Common Causes of Cervical Cancer – and What You Can Do to Lower Your Risk

January is National Cervical Cancer Awareness month and cancer experts at Intermountain Health are working to educate women about cervical cancer, the tests that can warn women about potential cancer, and the importance of vaccination.
Kid holding a cisco fish at winterfest...
Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

Get Ready for Fun at the 2023 Bear Lake Monster Winterfest

The Bear Lake Monster Winterfest is an annual weekend event jam-packed full of fun activities the whole family can enjoy. This year the event will be held from January 27-29 at the Utah Bear Lake State Park Marina and Sunrise Resort and Event Center in Garden City, Utah. 
happy friends with sparklers at christmas dinner...

15 Easy Christmas Dinner Ideas

We’ve scoured the web for you and narrowed down a few of our favorite Christmas dinner ideas to make your planning easy. Choose from the dishes we’ve highlighted to plan your meal or start brainstorming your own meal plan a couple of weeks before to make sure you have time to shop and prepare.
Spicy Homemade Loaded Taters Tots...

5 Game Day Snacks for the Whole Family (with recipes!)

Try these game day snacks to make watching football at home with your family feel like a special occasion. 
Happy joyful smiling casual satisfied woman learning and communicates in sign language online using...

The Best Tools for Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Workplace Success

Here are some of the best resources to make your workplace work better for Deaf and hard-of-hearing employees.
Team supporters celebrating at a tailgate party...

8 Delicious Tailgate Foods That Require Zero Prep Work

In a hurry? These 8 tailgate foods take zero prep work, so you can fuel up and get back to what matters most: getting hyped for your favorite
Defendants claim they are immune from fraud charges as sovereign citizens