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Central Texas man convicted in 'sovereign citizen' case sentenced

Randall Townsend. (Jail photo)
Randall Townsend. (Jail photo)(KWTX)
Published: Dec. 13, 2017 at 12:36 PM CST
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Randall Townsend, 48, of Hamilton who was arrested in May on retaliation charges stemming from attempts to file liens on the homes of two law enforcement officers, has been sentenced to prison after a jury found him guilty of retaliation and filing a fraudulent financial statement.

Townsend was sentenced to seven years in prison and fined $5,000 on the retaliation charge and was sentenced to 24 months in prison and fined $5,000 on the filing a fraudulent financial statement charge.

The sentences will be served concurrently.

Townsend, whom authorities described as a self-proclaimed “sovereign citizen,” was named in indictments charging two counts of obstruction and retaliation.

He could have been sentenced to as much as 10 years in prison after his conviction Tuesday.

Members of the “sovereign citizen movement,” which watchdog groups say is growing, believe that they may decide for themselves which laws to obey and which to ignore and that they don’t have to pay taxes.

Townsend’s issues with area law enforcement officers date back to 2014 when he was asked to sign a criminal trespass warning, according to an affidavit filed for a search warrant in the case.

In May 2015, he was arrested for driving without a valid driver’s license and in September 2015 he filed suit over the two incidents naming Hamilton County, the City of Hamilton, Sheriff Justin Caraway, the chief deputy sheriff, the county’s previous sheriff, the jail administrator, Hamilton’s police chief, and Justice of the Peace James Lively.

A state district judge dismissed the suit, but Townsend “created his own official seal, and filed two orders purporting to rule on the defendant’s motions, (and) a judgement awarding himself $36,790 in damages,’ the affidavit said.

Rangers learned in April 2016 that Townsend “had filed an order with the district court that ‘establishes Randy Townsend as a court in Hamilton County and he is signing as judge,’” the affidavit said.

In June 2016, Towsend went to the Hamilton County Appraisal District office “seeking property information concerning the persons named as defendants in his fake/fraudulent judgement,” the affidavit said.

“There was a concern that Townsend was preparing an attempt to conduct a levy/lien on property in an attempt to collect on the ‘judgement,’” the affidavit said.

Townsend went to the Hamilton County Clerk’s Office in October 2016 and attempted to file notices of lien on property owned by the sheriff, the affidavit said.

On Feb. 3, the investigating Texas Ranger received a phone call indicating that Townsend and his wife, Christie, “had been arrested in New Mexico while reportedly wearing uniforms, badges and guns while representing themselves as ‘Constitutional Marshals,’” the affidavit said.

Then in April Townsend tried to file a lien on the home of a Hamilton police lieutenant, the affidavit said.

The affidavit says a letter Townsend delivered to the city in March 2015 in which he said “he will take immediate action to stop a police officer from what he perceives to be unlawful contact” coupled with the attempts to file the liens against Caraway and the police lieutenant, with both of whom Townsend had dealings “made it abundantly clear by words and actions Randall Townsend is retaliating against the public servants on account of their service.”

In a search of Townsend’s home, Rangers seized computers, documents, property maps and other items.

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