REPORTS: FBI Arrests Purported ‘Sovereign Citizen’ And Fugitive Shawn Rice After Arizona Standoff

Shawn Rice, a purported “sovereign citizen” the FBI described in March 2011 as a “fugitive,” has been arrested in Seligman, Ariz.

The Arizona Republic is reporting that the arrest occurred at 5:30 p.m. local time yesterday after a standoff that ended peacefully after negotiations with Rice, who had barricaded himself inside a house.

Rice, whom federal prosecutors in Nevada said was 48, was charged in Nevada with money-laundering and conspiracy in March 2009. His initial arrest occurred as a result of a sting in which he allegedly agreed with Samuel Davis, 56, of Council, Idaho, to launder proceeds from what the men believed was a bank-fraud scheme.

In reality, according to federal prosecutors, Rice and Davis were conducting business with undercover FBI agents posing as scammers.

Davis, another purported “sovereign citizen,” pleaded guilty to the charges in March 2011. He was sentenced in October to 57 months in federal prison. Rice, though, became a fugitive, the FBI said.

It was not immediately clear how the FBI learned yesterday that Rice was in Seligman. The arrest occurred while much of the nation’s attention was focused on the holidays.

The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) has described Davis as a redemptionist-seminar tax scammer and “one of the elders in the Guardians of the Free Republics, a sovereign group that claims to have recently set up ‘common-law courts’ in all 50 states.”

It is becoming somewhat common for “sovereign citizens” to conduct “trials” — occasionally inside places such as restaurants — at which fellow “sovereigns” implicated in crimes and within the jurisdiction of real courts are “acquitted.”

Prior to his guilty plea, Davis advised customers of his tax scheme “that everything is going as planned,” SPLC reported.

Rice is known as “Rabbi Shawn Rice,” SPLC reported.

“According to the court records, from March 2008 through the date of the Indictment, Davis and Rice allegedly laundered approximately $1.3 million of monies for FBI undercover agents,” federal prosecutors said in March 2009. “Davis and Rice were told by the undercover agents that the monies were proceeds of a bank fraud scheme, specifically from the theft and forgery of stolen official bank checks. Davis and Rice laundered the monies through a nominee trust account controlled by Davis and through an account of a purported religious organization controlled by Rice. Davis and Rice took approximately $74,000 and $22,000, respectively, in fees for their money laundering services.”

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