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“Sovereign Citizens” leader heads to jail on tax fraud

Federal prosecutors opened the trial of one the nation’s most prominent “sovereign citizens” leaders by portraying him as nothing more than a con man who used antigovernment ideology to peddle illegal debt- and tax-relief scams to the financially troubled.

But James Timothy Turner, delivering his own opening statement at the trial that began Monday in Montgomery, Ala., cast himself as the victim. “I discovered things that big Washington government doesn’t want you know,” he said. “They’re trying to shut me up.”

Turner faces 10 tax charges, including conspiring to defraud the federal government, attempting to pay his own taxes with a fictitious financial instrument and attempting to obstruct an Internal Revenue Service (IRS) investigation. He faces up to 164 years in prison and large financial penalties if convicted on all charges.

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