FBI warns police of growing sovereign citizen movementPosted: Updated:
The FBI is sending out a warning to police officers all over Tennessee after something that happened outside a Nashville strip club.
Investigators say a man pulled a loaded gun on an officer, and that suspect is part of a dangerous and growing movement.
Sovereign citizens are people who whole-heartedly believe the law does not apply to them. There have been several cases in Middle Tennessee, and the strip club incident is just the latest.
That's why FBI agents are notifying officers all across the state of just how dangerous the self-proclaimed sovereign citizens can be.
In a homemade video, a man police identify as Anthony Williams shows off his badge and handcuffs. Officers say he even made a fake law enforcement vehicle tag with a state seal.
"Today is officially my first day of being a sovereign police officer out in Nashville," Williams says in the video.
His arrest record shows several accusations of impersonating a police officer.
In another case, brothers identified as Greg Manuel, Mark Manuel and Mike Manuel were accused of running a Ponzi scheme in which they allegedly used a Franklin church to cheat people out of their life savings.
All three are self-proclaimed sovereign citizens who believe the law doesn't apply to them.
In the most recent case, police say Eric Stanberry Jr. was asked to leave a Nashville strip club in late June after he allegedly urinated on the property.
Officers say he then pulled a loaded gun on an unarmed security guard, so Metro police used a stun gun on him.
They say he too identified himself as a sovereign peace officer.
He had a 9mm pistol, two ammunition magazines, a box of bullets and a badge with a special police logo.
"An individual pulls a loaded weapon on a law enforcement officer? That is a concern, yes," said FBI Assistant Special Agent-in-Charge Keith Moses.
Moses and his colleagues are so concerned about what Stanberry did, they sent an email Friday warning law enforcement officers all across the state. Stanberry, they say, is just the latest example of a growing movement.
"They do bank fraud, mail fraud, wire fraud. Mortgage fraud is a big thing they do," Moses said.
And they want law-abiding citizens to be aware.
"It could be dangerous," Moses said.
FBI officials say sovereign citizens have also been known to attack authority figures by actually putting false liens on their homes and businesses.
As for Stanberry, he faces five different charges, including aggravated assault and impersonating a police officer. His cases were heard in court on Aug. 13 and he has been bound over to the grand jury.
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