Chicago “sovereign citizen” convicted for filing false $100 billion liens

Forty-four-year-old Cherron Phillips stands to serve 100 years in prison after targeting federal judges

Topics: Southern Poverty Law Center, sovereign citizen, Chicago

Chicago "sovereign citizen" convicted for filing false $100 billion liens (Credit: RonTech2000 via iStock)
This article was originally published by The Southern Poverty Law Center.

The Southern Poverty Law Center A 44-year-old anti-government “sovereign citizen” was convicted June 18 in federal court in Chicago of filing a series of false $100 billion liens – that’s billion with a b – against some of the biggest names in the city’s federal legal community.

After deliberating for more than two hours, a jury found Cherron Phillips guilty on 10 of 12 counts of retaliation against a federal official by filing false claims, the Chicago Tribune reported.

Clearly Phillips had taken to heart and added her own twist to the sage words of Daniel Burnham, the master builder and visionary urban planner, who in the late 19th and 20th Century shaped the image of Chicago.

Burnham’s advice, “Make no little plans.”

Phillips apparent motto:  “Harass no little people.”

The list of Phillips 12 lien targets included federal judges, prosecutors and a former U.S. Attorney, Patrick Fitzgerald, who spent his career putting away corrupt politicians, gang chieftains and helping to hunt Osama bin Laden. Prosecutors contended Phillips filed the liens in 2011as revenge for the 2008 federal conviction of her brother on drug charges.

“This was not justice,” assistant U.S. Attorney Nathan Slump said in describing Phillips’ actions to the jury during closing arguments, the Tribune reported. “It was vengeance. It was petty and it was sneaky and it was cheap.”

But Phillips’ court appointed lawyer, Lauren Solomon, told the jury that no one was harmed by the “ridiculous” liens and that the documents she filed “are absurd on their face,” the Tribune reported.

Phillips stayed true to the end to the sovereign creed that the government and its laws have no sway over “sovereign citizens.” Shortly before closing arguments on Wednesday, she refused, the Tribune reported, to testify on her own behalf, telling the judge, “Personal jurisdiction is not on the record…I have not consented to this legal process.”



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Phillips’ “bizarre and at times comical trial,” as the Chicago Sun-Times described it, began on Monday as a parade of legal heavy hitters took the stand to testify that Phillips had placed phony liens on them and their property.

Former Court Clerk, Michael Dobbins, testified that he did not know about the lien against him until he tried to sell a garage space in his condo building in 2011, only to have the sale blocked, the paper reported. U.S. District Judge James Holderman, once the highest ranking federal judge in Chicago, told the court, according to Sun-Times, that he received a document from Phillips saying he had been “indicted” for failing to appear before a “people’s panel” at a South Side library.

Holderman chuckled at the memory, saying he did not take the indictment seriously, “but they seemed to be earnest about their intimidation of me.”

When it was his turn to testify, Fitzgerald, the former U.S. Attorney, assured the court, “I don’t own anyone $100 billion.”

Phillips stands to serve 100 years in prison when she is sentenced later this year.

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