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'Sovereign citizens' getting attention in Oklahoma County courts

Shane Farrell Thomas, 37, a Del City contractor accused of embezzlement, is among those who say they do not recognize government's authority to impose laws or taxes.
by Tim Willert Published: April 29, 2013

Shane Farrell Thomas has become a pain in the backsides of Oklahoma County judges and court officials whose jurisdiction he refuses to recognize.

Thomas, 37, a self-described ‘sovereign' American, is among a growing number of people nationwide who don't recognize the government's authority to impose laws or taxes.

“We know they are in Oklahoma because we see and hear about their paper activity in our court system,” said Tamara Pratt, deputy director of the Memorial Institute for the Prevention of Terrorism in Oklahoma City. “That's their method of operation.”

‘Sovereign citizens' such as Thomas, a defendant in multiple embezzlement cases, usually represent themselves in court, filing nonsensical paperwork on their own behalf.

“They like to flood the courts with false liens against public officials,” Pratt said, adding that ‘sovereigns' don't pay taxes, create false license plates and driver's licenses and sometimes make currency as a means of defiance.

Demands a trial

On Friday, Thomas was taken into custody by courthouse deputies before the start of his preliminary hearing. An arrest warrant for Thomas was issued after he failed to appear for a previous hearing.

Handcuffed and with his mother in tow, the Del City man reappeared before Oklahoma County Special Judge Larry A. Jones and promptly asked the judge to remove himself from the case.

“My rights have been violated,” said Thomas, citing outdated state and federal laws as a basis for his defense. “I demand a trial by a jury of my peers.”

Jones fired back, telling Thomas a counterclaim he filed that names the judge as a defendant has no merit because “there is no such creature” in criminal cases.

“The arguments you're making today are nonsensical and not relevant to these proceedings,” the judge told Thomas. “You're clueless.”

Thomas, a contractor, is accused in four felony cases of embezzling more than $100,000 from friends and neighbors who paid him to complete home repairs, court records show.

One of those alleged victims is an 80-year-old neighbor of Thomas whose roof was damaged in a fire. Monte Wampler agreed to pay Thomas $34,000 for the work and cut him a check for $27,000 to pay for materials and subcontractors, records show.

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by Tim Willert
Education Reporter
Tim Willert is a native Californian with Oklahoma ties who covers education. Prior to moving to Oklahoma in June 2011, he was as an editor for in Century City, Calif., and reported on courts for the Los Angeles Daily Journal and...
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