Mar. 07, 2009
Copyright © Las Vegas Review-Journal
Men arrested in raid have ties to anti-tax crusade
Retired FBI agent faces charges
By ADRIENNE PACKER
LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL
Samuel Davis, left, Jan Lindsey and Shawn Rice appear in federal court on charges stemming from a raid Thursday. The men, along with a fourth defendant, Herald Call, were released pending trial.
Illustration by David Stroud.
Jan Lindsey served as a special agent with the FBI until 1995, when he retired in good standing from the agency and eventually became involved in an anti-tax, anti-government movement.
Now Lindsey faces the possibility of meeting the same fate as one of the tax protester movement's more notorious leaders, 81-year-old Irwin Schiff, who was convicted of tax crimes in 2006 and is now in prison.
Lindsey, 66, was one of four Las Vegas Valley men arrested Thursday in a raid orchestrated by the Joint Terrorism Task Force, an arm of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Herald Call was charged with possession of an unregistered weapon. Shawn Rice, who once worked with the CIA, and Samuel Davis were charged with conspiracy and money laundering.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Eric Johnson said all four defendants belong to the sovereign movement, which does not believe in the authority of the federal government.
The task force investigated the case because of threats allegedly made toward law enforcement and Internal Revenue Service agents. Investigators raided properties in Las Vegas, Idaho and Arizona.
FBI Special Agent David Staretz said the charges have nothing to do with the foursome's beliefs or ideologies.
"When the members go from First Amendment rights to the realm of criminal activity, that's when the federal government has an interest," Staretz said.
All four pleaded not guilty to the charges and were released by U.S. Magistrate Judge Lawrence Leavitt until their trial dates, initially scheduled for May. Leavitt prohibited the men from possessing firearms or explosives. None of the defendants have prior criminal histories.
Inside Call's home at 8208 Gunther Circle, near Alta and Buffalo drives, authorities on Thursday discovered three illegal machine guns, 27 other types of pistols and guns and two grenades, Johnson said. A bunker equipped with a substantial amount of food was found behind a hidden door in a closet and a surveillance camera trained on the front yard was set up in the garage.
Johnson said neighbors reported that Call, 67, advised them to stay inside their homes if they ever saw police or IRS agents at his residence because there would be "firearms exchanged," Johnson said.
"He intended to shoot Internal Revenue Service agents," said Johnson, who argued the men should remain in custody.
In a recorded telephone conversation, Lindsey is heard saying that if the government continues to interfere with citizens' assets, weapons will be used and there will be a "full-blown revolution," Johnson said.
Lindsey, who has lived in Las Vegas for nine years and who authorities say is the leader of an organization called Nevada Lawmen Group for Public Awareness, appeared to be the most publicly active. Lindsey has failed to pay his income taxes or has filed false returns since 1999, Johnson said.
Although Schiff has been incarcerated in Terre Haute, Ind. for nearly three years, he still appears to have a following in the Las Vegas Valley. Schiff's East Sahara bookstore, which once sported a huge sign that read, "Why pay income taxes when no law says you have to?" is shuttered. But his older blogs relating to tax protests occasionally resurface on the Internet.
Photos on Schiff's Web site show Lindsey in Schiff's office displaying his FBI special agent badge.
Lindsey is a coordinator for an organization called "We the People," which, according to its Web site, was developed to become "the nationwide force that will institutionalize and organize citizen vigilance." One of the group's six primary missions is "to help people become better informed about how to confront unconstitutional and illegal behavior by those wielding power in government at all levels," the site says.
Lindsey might have been tapping into the organization's teachings Thursday when he first appeared in federal court. He repeatedly interrupted the judge to ask whether a citation against him existed. When he made little progress, he turned to Johnson and tried to get his attention, but he couldn't remember Johnson's name and was told to be quiet.
On Friday, all but Call tried to explain their constitutional rights to Leavitt, which led to some bizarre exchanges. Each spelled their name for the court, emphasizing which letters should be capitalized and which should be lower-case. They made sure the judge noted their middle names.
Davis, 54, told Leavitt, "I accept the charges for value," when asked to enter a plea.
"I don't know what that means," Leavitt responded. "It's a simple question, guilty or not guilty."
Leavitt ultimately entered a not guilty plea on behalf of Davis.
Davis, who resides in Idaho with his wife and 16-year-old son, told Leavitt the charges included in the indictment were "absurd."
Undercover agents approached Davis and Rice last year and presented to them stolen checks from Wachovia Bank. The agents told the men they needed assistance laundering money from the checks and the two men allegedly obliged. Between March 2008 and September 2008, agents wired about $585,000 to Davis and he returned $540,000, keeping the difference as payment for his service, according to the indictment. Rice served as Davis' associate, according to the government.
Rice is a rabbi and attorney for the Pembina Nation, a native American group that Johnson said is not recognized by the Bureau of Indian Affairs. The 46-year-old lives in Seligman, Ariz.
Despite their opinions about the federal government and the court system, each defendant told Leavitt they would not miss a court appearance.
"If I'm going to do anything, I'm going to run at you," Rice said, giving Leavitt pause.
Rice's attorney quickly jumped in to say his client simply meant that he plans to aggressively defend himself during the trial.
Contact reporter Adrienne Packer at email@example.com or 702-384-8710.