A key figure in the 1988 Singer-Swapp standoff in Summit County is associated with a check-writing scheme that originates with an anti-government group in Montana.
Ogden Kraut has been assisting Utah residents in cashing "Certified Bankers" checks signed by LeRoy M. Schweitzer, a leader of the "Freemen" movement in south-central Montana. (Please see accompanying story.)Most institutions refuse to accept the checks. When that happens, Kraut, a notary public, sends letters to the U.S. Postal Service,
certifying that he protested to the institutions for their failure to honor the checks.
In an interview Wednesday, Kraut said he believes that the checks are good, but if they're not, he wants to know why. "There's something fishy here," he said.
Kraut is not under investigation for any criminal wrongdoing.
According to documents obtained from the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, the following are among the non-negotiable checks that Kraut has protested:- A check payable to First Interstate Bank and Calvin Paul Stewart for $798,000.
- A $72,921 check payable to the Internal Revenue Service and Kevin Brown.
- A $72,717 check payable to the Utah State Tax Commission and Kevin Brown.
- A $245,349 check payable to Zions First National Bank and Kevin Brown.
- A $480,000 check payable to U.S. attorney and L. Shyrl Brown.
- A $2,979,546 check payable to the IRS and L. Shyrl Brown.
In his letters to the Postal Service, Kraut says the institutions refused to accept the checks "with-out giving any Lawful reasons."
Kraut is a prominent figure in fundamentalist religious circles in Utah. He has never advocated unlawful behavior, however. As a trusted friend of the polygamist Singer-Swapp family in Summit County, Kraut tried to negotiate a settlement between law enforcement and Adam Swapp in January 1988 when Swapp blew up a meetinghouse of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and then refused to surrender.
Swapp, with his brother, two wives and other members of the Vicki Singer family, forced a standoff at the Singer ranch in Marion. The standoff lasted 13 days, ending in a shootout that claimed the life of a state corrections officer.
In an interview Wednesday, Kraut said he is intrigued by some of Schweitzer's ideas because they are "based on religious issues."
But he added, "I've met 47 people who claim to be prophets. LeRoy (Schweitzer) would make No. 48."