OKEECHOBEE — No one knows exactly why an Okeechobee man filed liens on property owned by a circuit court judge and the clerk of courts but the state says he broke the law none the less.
Court paperwork states Patrick Michael Long, 47, filed liens totaling $7.4 million and he was arrested Aug. 28 for filing those documents.
Long, N.E. 342nd Trail, was charged with five felony counts of filing false documents against property and two counts of unlawfully filing of false documents against property owned by a public officer or employee.
He was booked into the Okeechobee County Jail on a bond of $80,000. Jail records show he has been released on bond.
A report by Edward Arens, an investigator with the Office of the State’s Attorney for the 19th Judicial Circuit, stated Long filed liens against Circuit Court Judge Gary Sweet and Okeechobee County Clerk of Courts Sharon Robertson, as well as attorneys for The Bank of New York Mellon.
The Bank of New York Mellon is foreclosing on Long’s home and property. The Okeechobee County Property Appraiser’s Office has the mobile home and 4.840 acres of land appraised at $107,715.
In the investigator’s report, Mr. Arens points out that William Bissell, State of Florida assistant attorney general State Programs Bureau, said the filing of such liens is “… a common practice used by people who subscribe to sovereign citizen beliefs.”
Mr. Arens goes on to state that Judge Sweet is presiding over the foreclosure involving Long, and that Ms. Robertson’s office maintains the records involving that case.
The filing of the lien, stated the investigator, could “… have a negative effect on the victim’s credit.”
Assistant State Attorney Lev Evans is prosecuting the case and he states in the arrest warrant that the lien was filed “… with the intent to defraud or harass another.”
Sovereign citizens are described by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) as “… anti-government extremists who believe that even though they physically reside in this country, they are separate or “sovereign” from the United States. As a result, they believe they don’t have to answer to any government authority, including courts, taxing entities, motor vehicle departments, or law enforcement.”
The group also believes the U.S. government creates a secret identity for each citizen when they are born that controls a secret U.S. Treasury account that totals up to $20 million, which is then used as collateral for foreign debt.
And, if they file enough bogus legal documents — such as fake liens and foreclosure notices — they can fool the system and ultimately eliminate personal debt or defrauding corporations.
Eric Kopp is a staff writer for the Okeechobee News