Yelm man sentenced to 8 years in jail for ‘sovereign citizen’ tax fraud

Staff writerJune 14, 2013 

A “Sovereign Citizen” movement member convicted of advising people in a tax fraud scheme was sentenced Friday to more than eight years in prison, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Raymond Leo Jarlik Bell of Yelm also must pay $705,276 in restitution and serve three years of supervised release.

He was convicted in March on five counts of filing false, fictitious and fraudulent claims, three counts of mail fraud, 15 counts of assisting in filing false tax returns and one count of criminal contempt.

Members of the Sovereign Citizen movement believe state and federal governments are illegitimate. They are known to file claims and liens against government officials, seeking monetary damages they say are redress for government harassment.

Jarlik Bell’s scheme dates to at least 2005, when a federal judge ordered him to stop promoting a fraudulent tax scheme. Less than three years later, he was accused of being back at it. He allegedly held seminars in California to promote his scheme and advised others on how to file false tax returns.

In one instance, Jarlik Bell helped a woman get a fraudulent tax refund of $590,000. He obtained an undeserved refund of $30,000 for himself, federal officials said.

Asking for a lengthy prison sentence, federal prosecutors wrote in court papers that Jarlik Bell aggressively promoted the scheme in Washington, California, Arizona and Hawaii.

“The defendant recruited other people — blinded by their own greed and shortsightedness — to break the law,” they wrote. “In that sense his crime is more detrimental to society and to the enforcement of the tax laws than that of a defendant who confines his criminal activity to him or her self.”

His wife, Ute Christine Jarlik Bell, another member of the movement, was convicted of four counts of filing false, fictitious and fraudulent claims. She will be sentenced Tuesday.

Also convicted in the case were Spanaway resident Kenneth Wayne Leaming and former Tacoma resident David Carroll Stephenson.

Leaming was found guilty of filing false liens against federal officials, harboring fugitives and illegally possessing firearms. Stephenson was found guilty of a single count of filing a false lien against a federal official. The two conspired to file liens against an Arizona prison warden and the head of the Federal Bureau of Prisons, court records show.

Stacia Glenn: 253-597-8653

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