One of the most prominent sovereign citizen gurus in the United States, 1 a man whose videos and seminars have attracted thousands of people, and has been one of the most influential leaders of the Redemption Movement, is Winston Shrout. He expanded on Elvic’s redemption theory, creating the A4V money-for-nothing technique, while maintaining the classic sovereign citizen motif that government authority is restricted to admiralty law and commerce. 2
Shrout encountered the movement at a time when it was enjoying a burst of popularity. This was due to a new compilation of sovereign citizen theories and tactics, often referred to as “redemption” or “straw man theory,” which swept through the movement in 1999 like a wildfire and still remain quite popular to this day.
Shrout has at times seemed to imply that he learned redemption theory from Roger Elvick, but Shrout’s earliest sovereign citizen filings appear to date from 2000, by which time redemption theory was already quite popular in the movement. In 2000 he filed a notarized document explaining in sovereign citizen pseudo-legalese how he had refused to sign or accept a traffic citation from a Washington County, Utah, sheriff’s deputy. Two months later, Shrout filed his first bogus lien, and soon became a redemption guru, teaching the theory to sovereign audiences.
Shrout’s first $1,340,000 lien, dubbed “Affidavit of Obligation” was against El Rancho Motoqua, a subsidiary company of Unified Industries, Inc., a corporation that holds resources and business enterprises associated with the Apostolic United Brethren (AUB), one of the major fundamentalist Mormon polygamist sects in Utah. It is not entirely clear from the lien document if Shrout himself was an adherent of the polygamist AUB, though at one point Shrout refers to himself “and several thousand other fundamentalist Mormons.” However, non-adherents have sometimes resided in AUB communities. Some adherents of polygamists sects have gotten involved with the sovereign citizen movement. Shrout’s stepdaughter, April Rampton, was a resident of Motoqua as late as 2012, before she herself was convicted in federal court on nine counts of filing false tax claims while engaged in a common sovereign citizen and tax protest scheme.
In 2004, Shrout and Patricia Bekken formed an entity called Solutions in Commerce to market sovereign seminars and workshops. Shrout proved to be a popular speaker, with a folksy demeanor that he deliberately played up, referring to it once as “hillbilly shtick.” Shrout’s reputation within the sovereign citizen movement grew in the mid-2000s, The debt elimination schemes that Shrout promoted were also popular; one admiring extremist in 2004 referred to Shrout as a “top dawg” among such promoters.
In 2010, Southern Poverty Law Centre identified Shrout as one of the 10 most-prominent leaders in the sovereign citizens movement, prone to pitching phony, illegal and sometimes nonsensical schemes to avoid taxes, eliminate debts and extract money from the government. 3 But it was the social media revolution that really helped propel him to the top ranks of sovereign gurus, as YouTube videos of some of his appearances and seminars began to circulate widely by 2008-2009, bringing him far greater attention and popularity. This same time period corresponded with the beginnings of the great recession and the mortgage crisis, events that helped spawn a major resurgence of the sovereign citizen movement by creating a large pool of angry and desperate people who were potential recruits.
Shrout held seminars across the country but hardly limited his activities to the United States. In the 1990s, the sovereign citizen movement had taken root in Canada, so Shrout spoke to attentive audiences in that nation—until Canadian authorities finally prohibited him from entering the country. But Shrout found other international audiences, holding seminars in Australia, New Zealand, and Great Britain, helping to bring the sovereign citizen movement to all of those countries—to the dismay of authorities.
By 2010, Shrout had $50,000 in outstanding tax liens, had declared personal bankruptcy in 2001, and lost three federal civil cases since 2000, including one in which a major bank sued both Winston and his sham “freeman” arbitration company.
More recently, Shrout expanded beyond strictly sovereign notions to express himself on UFOs and other “New Age” issues, claiming that in the early 2000s he and friends of his have been visited by alien “Pleiadians.” He’s made references to everything from incarnated fairies to “Hollow Earth” theory. Several years ago, Shrout set up a new website, dubbed Exo-Commerce, to provide “insight from a universal perspective,” which appears to be an attempt to blend sovereign citizen theories and tactics with “New Age” beliefs. It is difficult to determine whether these are sincerely held beliefs or merely a cynical attempt on the part of Shrout to expand to another gullible audience.
As the schemes are considered fraud 4 by the Federal Bureau of Investigations, his is the story of the rise and fall of a Sovereign Citizen guru 5 after Federal charges indicted Shrout for millions in fraud 6 and put an end to such opportunism, cynical or sincere.
Shrout was charged with 13 counts of using fictitious financial instruments in connection with an alleged debt elimination scheme. As a result of the federal indictment, Shrout was convicted in April 2017 7 of creating and spreading more than 300 bogus “International Bills of Exchange” and “Non-Negotiable Bills of Exchange,” instruments with a combined face value of over $100 trillion. (but worthless in fact). Shrout used such instruments himself and also marketed them as a way for others to pay off their debts.
Shrout was also convicted of 6 counts of willful failure to file income tax returns. The indictment is a superseding indictment, adding the fictitious instrument charges to the tax charges, which were originally filed against Shrout in December 2015. Since that original indictment, Shrout declined to use an attorney and has defended himself using sovereign citizen filings that, among other things, declare his refusal to consent to the jurisdiction of the federal court or to be taxed by the IRS.
- 1 https://www.splcenter.org/hatewatch/2016/03/21/‘sovereign-kingpin-who-sold-phony-financial-scheme-faces-multi-count-indictment
- 2 https://www.splcenter.org/fighting-hate/intelligence-report/2005/his-straw-man-free-scammer-finds-rest-him-isnt
- 3 https://www.splcenter.org/fighting-hate/intelligence-report/2010/sovereigns-leaders-movement
- 4 http://www.fbi.gov/scams-safety/fraud/fraud
- 5 http://blog.adl.org/extremism/winston-shrout-the-rise-and-fall-of-a-sovereign-citizen-guru
- 6 http://www.oregonlive.com/pacific-northwest-news/index.ssf/2016/03/federal_indictment_charges_hil%20.html
- 7 USA v. Shrout Oregon District Court, Case No. 3:15-cr-00438 https://www.plainsite.org/dockets/2ovpmrun7/oregon-district-court/usa-vshrout
- 8 https://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/fugitive-and-tax-fraud-promoter-captured-and-set-serve-his-10-year-prison-sentence
Russell Pine, better known as Jordan Maxwell, is a for-profit showman, a smooth-talking salesman for many of the esoteric and pseudo legal theories circulating in the 1990’s. Contrary to what most believe to be a life long crusade for seeking truth, Russell Pine did not start “researching” anything until the early 1990’s, and in most cases his “research” has been discovered to be direct plagiarisms of the late Manly Palmer Hall. He also taught the common law and maritime admiralty concepts of the Posse Comitatus, and Roger Elvic’s redemption theory,
His Jehovah’s Witness influence is also apparent, especially the sects conspiratorial perception of the Papacy. He combines this concept with a OPCA commercial perspective to arrive at the conclusion that: “The Pope owns your soul through your “berth certificate.” There are countless short clips on YouTube from Jordan Maxwell, on OPCA concepts like maritime admiralty, the birth certificate strawman, UCC, Roman law, etc, most originally part of a package that was marketed through his various websites. Almost anything he mentions regarding Astro-Theology, Occultism, Biblical metaphors are direct extractions from Manly Palmer Hall. 1
It’s easy to reiterate the work of others with an earnest expression and have people believe you’re something that you’re not. It’s called being a salesman. Russell Pine can make you believe the most obscene, ludicrous and unverified lies to be true… at least for a moment. There are people that no matter how much evidence dictates the contrary, will always love “Jordan’s Maxwell”. It seems the blind will follow the blind off a cliff even if they suspect imminent death. Russell Pine’s claims about sovereignty should likewise be heeded with the highest caution. In September 2011, Jordan called his associate Joe Dolezal from the Van Nuys jail needing to be bailed out because police had arrested him and impounded his “sovereign vehicle”. (which he then abandoned and never got back)
Russell Pine has incessantly lied about his past work life, and the relationships he has had with the very people that made “Jordan Maxwell”. Stewart Rubenstein was one of the main reasons anyone today knows the name Jordan Maxwell. Rubenstein was one of the initial investors, creators and producers of “The Naked Truth Series”,810 a 1991 video production that catapulted Russell Pine into the spotlight as the “Occult Conspiracy Authority”, and thereby making “Jordan Maxwell”.
He has recently made allegations that Joe Dolezal “stole” the Jordan Maxwell name and website. Joe Dolezal’s public response reveals Russell Pine sold all “past, present and future Intellectual Properties and products of “Jordan Maxwell”, to him, in front of a notarizing witness in Calabasas, California in March 2010. He also describes Russell Pine’s history, and how he has criminally undermined his former associates on numerous occasions. 2 This spycam catches Jordan Maxwell admitting to fraud 3
Jordan Maxwell and others conducted a nationwide scheme to sell worthless “International Driving Permits” through BBCOA.com and other websites. 4
Contending the documents met all the conditions of the U.N. Convention, they could be used to avoid many types of driving sanctions, such as demerit points, obtain auto insurance, rent cars, even enable visitors to become “permanent tourists”. A booklet that accompanied the laminated card informed consumers exactly what to say if stopped by the police, stressing that: “Your IDP is perfectly valid if used in a lawful manner. Following these tips will greatly increase your success rate, and minimize contact with ‘Big Brother.” Pitched as a way for those with poor driving records, revoked or suspended driver’s licenses to get around the system. Those wishing to buy a permit from their website were asked to mail in certain personal information, or with spam, instructed to call a recorded line. In addition to selling supposedly authentic IDPs, they also marketed “credit repair services” and “debt termination programs.”
In Federal Trade Commission v Jordan Maxwell, Civ. No. 03 0128 NM Federal Court: Central District of California, 5 Jordan Maxwell, doing business as BBCOA (aka BBC of America aka Better Books and Cassettes of America) was fined $444,600.00 for the scam. 6
“The defendants deceptively marketed bogus documents,” said J. Howard Beales III, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. “They misled people with limited English proficiency and those whose licenses have been revoked about the value and the purpose of the IDP. And they charged them exorbitant fees. We’re pleased that the FTC can put this scam in park.” Sandra Hughes, vice president of AAA Travel, said: “The FTC’s action helps alert consumers to these scams, while letting bogus marketers know this conduct won’t be tolerated. These scams lead innocent travelers to spend hundreds of dollars for false documents. Even worse, they encourage unlicensed drivers to return to our highways, endangering all of us.”
- 1 M.P.H. audio lectures: http://www.manlyphall.org/audio/
- 2 http://www.truthcontrol.com/articles/jordan-maxwell-master-defrauder
- 3 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6DcarKHWMxM
- 4 PRESS RELEASE: “FTC Targets Sellers Who Deceptively Marketed International Driver’s Permits over the Internet and via Spam” https://www.ftc.gov/news-events/press-releases/2003/01/ftc-targets-sellers-who-deceptively-marketed-international
- 5 https://www.ftc.gov/enforcement/cases-proceedings/maxwell-jordan-et-al
- 6 https://www.scribd.com/document/26569024/Jordan-Maxwell-Default-Judgment-for-Fraud