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W.V. MAN CHARGED IN SCHEME TIED TO ANTI-U.S. GROUP

SHARE W.V. MAN CHARGED IN SCHEME TIED TO ANTI-U.S. GROUP

A West Valley man who believes he's "sovereign" from the U.S. judicial system faces a new charge in connection with a check-writing ploy that has links to an anti-government group holed up in Montana.

Appearing Tuesday for a hearing in Utah's 3rd Circuit Court,Brigham Parley Evans Jr., 42, was charged with theft by deception, a second-degree felony. He was arrested earlier on a charge of communications fraud, also a second-degree felony.

Both charges accuse him of tendering a bogus check to Wheeler Machinery Co. for $19,964.

That amount was exactly twice what Evans owed Wheeler in a civil judgment. Upon receiving the check from Evans, Wheeler immediately issued him a check for the overpayment. Evans cashed Wheel-er's check, but when Wheeler tried to cash Evans' check, it learned the check was non-negotiable.

The check - with the words "Certified Bankers Check" and "Comptroller Warrant" along the top - was made payable to Evans and Wheeler Machinery and indicates it is "Redeemable at office of PostMaster, Payable on Sight." It is signed by LeRoy Schweitzer and lists a "special account" number and a "lien number," but no financial institution is listed.

Schweitzer is wanted on state and federal charges, including organized crime. He is one of the high-ranking leaders of the "Freemen" movement, a white-supremacist, anti-government organization based in central Montana.

The group, which has ties to the extremist Militia of Montana, was the focus of a recent ABC's "Prime Time Live" show, which reported that the Freemen believe Jews are descendants of Satan, women do not have the right to vote and the Constitution was written for whites only. Several members of the group have been charged with threatening the lives of public officials.

U.S. postal inspector Bill Susha said the group is also in the business of writing bogus checks. The checks are written against a lien it claims to have on the U.S. government. Schweitzer has written dozens of such checks, apparently to help its group's followers pay off debts, many of which are to the government. Susha said at least 15 checks have appeared in Utah - all have been deemed to be non-negotiable.

At his compound in Jordan, Mont., Schweitzer refused to come to the phone to speak to the Deseret News.

Authorities have not yet attempted to arrest Schweitzer or his associates for fear of a messy armed confrontation, such as what occurred at Ruby Ridge, Idaho, and Waco, Texas.

"Schweitzer just moved into my county, and I have a two-man dept. (There are) 10 of them out there, nine with felony warrants," said Garfield County (Mont.) Sheriff Charles Phipps. "I would just as soon see it resolved peacefully. Until I can come up with a plan, it's not worth killing someone over."

Noting Evans is the first person arrested in connection with Schweit-zer's check ploy, Susha said, "We've got to do something to stop these guys. That's what we're trying to do here (in Utah)."

In the hearing Tuesday, Evans refused to be represented by an attorney, saying it would make him subject to the state's jurisdiction, which he does not recognize.

"I don't want to give up any of my rights as a sovereign citizen," he said.

When asked if he understood he was being charged with crimes that could net him a 30-year sentence and a $20,000 fine, Evans stated, "This (court proceeding) is foreign to my jurisdiction, so I really don't understand it."

An irked Judge Carlos Esqueda warned Evans to stop "playing games" or he would put him in jail.

Over Evans' objections, the judge appointed two public defenders as "stand-by" counsel for Evans. Esqueda also refused to allow Wayne Arthur Hales, an associate of Evans, to be his counsel because Hales is not a licensed attorney.

Hales was in the courtroom wearing a blue windbreaker jacket with yellow letters that read, "CRTF, Civil Rights Task Force" - an obvious takeoff on similar-styled jackets worn by the FBI and ATF, which are among the federal agencies most hated by extremist groups.

In a "courtesy letter" sent to U.S. postal inspectors Jan. 11, Hales represented himself as a justice of the "one and only Supreme Court, which has original and exclusive jurisdiction in the country in the Republic of Utah state."

The letter says that the "Common Law Court" has met regarding Evans' case and found that the postal inspectors "circumvented the rights of (Evans)" and "acted without the authority of law of the Republic of Utah."

Evans, who remains free on a $5,000 bond, refused to be interviewed by the Deseret News.