SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Christopher Bruce put on quite the show in a Minnehaha County Courtroom this week. He even swore at the judge in his stalking case and told him he didn’t have jurisdiction over him. Bruce calls himself, “The Living Man“ and identifies as a Sovereign National. Bruce has a tumultuous background with the government and court system.
Bruce is part of an unorganized movement of extremists known as “sovereign citizens“. They are people who don’t think the law applies to them, whether that’s getting a driver’s license or paying taxes. Bruce wrote in one filing that Iowa courts have no jurisdiction over him “unless God’s laws are broken.“ Bruce lived in Polk County, Iowa before threatening Sioux Falls Mayor Paul Ten Haken.
KELOLAND Investigates spoke to the Des Moines, Iowa grandmother today, whom Bruce was found guilty of stalking in 2015. She said he threatened to kill her and burn down her house and that he spent some time in prison for it.
There are at least two dozen court cases against Bruce in Polk County alone.
Bruce’s Ramblings on Internet
KELOLAND Investigates followed the Internet trail of Christopher Bruce, from blogs to YouTube videos.
In one video he records himself calling the FBI and becomes agitated while on hold.
FBI Recording: Due to high call volume…
Bruce: I’m sure you are you (expletive)
He does get through to an agent.
Bruce: My name is Christopher Bruce. And I have emailed over 8,000 employees in the LA County to tell them to give a friend of mine’s kid back and then they went and arrested him and took his children. Now you want to explain to me how that works?
Unidentified FBI Agent: Sorry Sir, II have no idea what you’re talking about.
Bruce: I’m talking about I have emailed 8,146 employees in LA… (FBI agent hangs up) Now you see that, this is the reaction I get.
Sovereign Citizens Movement
The FBI categorizes “Sovereign Citizens” as a domestic “extremist” movement.
In February of this year “Sovereign Citizen” Dennis Duane Vann threatened officers with a pig-shaped “device” during a four-hour stand-off in a Maplewood, Minnesota grocery store parking lot.
“A lot of these people are driven by conspiracy theories, financial schemes; believe the government is out to get them, Wollman said.
Lincoln County State’s Attorney Tom Wollman has dealt with as many as 20 cases of so-called “sovereign citizens.“ He showed us one folder of paperwork and responses filed by one convicted of threatening a federal judge.
“Basically they become paper terrorists because they just file and file and file all these documents, which really don’t amount to anything, Wollman said.
Past Sovereign Citizen Cases
Terry Simunek sent this letter to Wollman after his 5th DWI Conviction in 2006.
Simunek writes the charges against him were “fraudulent” and he has “no contract with the state of South Dakota.“
Simunek was ticketed in Lyon County Iowa, just a couple of months ago for driving with a suspected license and failing to use the device on his car to test for alcohol.
They believe they are untouchable and not subject to our laws or the jurisdiction of our courts,“ Wollman said.
Former State lawmaker and convicted child sex offender Ted Klaudt also declared himself a “sovereign citizen” while in prison for his crime. Klaudt told KELOLAND News we couldn’t use his name anymore because it’s copyrighted — Wollman says it’s a tactic often used by these extremists.
The Adrian Sod case of tax evasion made headlines in 2014. Wollman says Jerry Adrian and his son, Jared, who ran the long-time Harrisburg business, were sovereign citizens who didn’t believe they had to pay taxes.
“It’s not a successful scheme. It is just that–it’s a scheme. And it’s a scheme to financially defraud or step away from your financial obligations and it’s never successful,“ Wollman said.