Montana Freemen

Montana Freemen

The Montana Freemen were a Christian Patriot movement based outside the town of Jordan, Montana. The members of the group referred to their land as "Justus Township" and had declared themselves no longer under the authority of any outside government. They became the center of public attention in 1996 when they engaged in a prolonged armed standoff with agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.



The Montana Freemen espoused belief in the doctrine of individual sovereignty and rejected the authority of the federal government of the United States. They conceived their own system of government in "Justus Township", including their own versions of common-law court de jure, banking, and credit.


LeRoy Schweitzer and the Freemen used inter alia Anderson on the Uniform Commercial Code and Bankers Handbook to draw notices of lien against public officials. The liens were then allegedly sold to generate equity in order to fund an effort to make a "firm offer to pay off the national debt." The Freemen claimed that the liens conformed to the Uniform Commercial Code, and that their township's court had an interest in a tort claim for damages incurred by the named public officials for violations of their oaths of office. They viewed support of the corporate credit system as an unconstitutional act which would incrementally "...[deprive] the people of their property until [their] posterity wakes up homeless...".[citation needed], a paraphrased quotation attributed to Thomas Jefferson.

Bank fraud

The Freemen were known to produce their own very realistic counterfeit checks and money orders, sometimes ordering items and deliberately overpaying so that they could demand refunds. In 1995 members used a note drawn from an account belonging to the U.S. District Court to try to purchase 1.4 million dollars' worth of firearms, ammunition, and body armor.[1]


In late 1994 foreclosure proceedings were initiated against the farm that contained Justus Township. The Freemen refused to be evicted from the land. They had also conducted their own mock trials of numerous public officials, and issued their own writ of execution against a federal judge. The FBI investigated the group and initiated a sting operation aimed at one of the Freemen's financial programs, which led to the arrest of two members of the group in March, 1996. The FBI also had warrants for eight other persons suspected to be in the farm, but before they were able to arrest them an armed confrontation developed and the FBI withdrew to a safe distance in order to avoid violence. The similar standoff in Waco, Texas involving the Branch Davidians was still fresh in the public mind, and the FBI was extremely cautious in trying to prevent a recurrence of those violent and tragic events [2]. After 81 days of negotiations, the Freemen surrendered to authorities.


Statutes were subsequently changed in Montana, and eventually elsewhere, to require that any notices of liens filed had to have a current corporate county judge or clerk signature to be held valid as "commercial paper" which can be sold or traded.

LeRoy Schweitzer was convicted of conspiracy, bank fraud, mail fraud, wire fraud, false claims to the IRS, interstate transportation of stolen property, threats against public officials, armed robbery of a television news crew, and firearms violations. He received a 22 year sentence for 25 convictions in a South Carolina federal prison, but was moved to the Administrative Maximum (ADX) facility at the Florence Federal Correctional Complex at Florence, Colorado in 2006 after two men who identified themselves as "Montana Marshals" attempted to free Schweitzer from the prison.[3] He passed away in the ADX on September 20, 2011.[4] [5]

Members have contended in various shortwave and talk radio interviews that several of the liens were sold into the offshore banking market. Some members and members of their families have claimed that the US Government's tactics were used to coerce Schweitzer and others to release the liens on public officials.

Scott Roeder, convicted on January 22, 2010, for the murder of Dr. George Tiller[6], was reportedly involved with the Freemen.[7]

Members of the Montana Freemen and their sentences

  • LeRoy M. Schweitzer - 22 years. Died in federal prison on September 20, 2011 of natural causes.[8]
  • Emmett Clark - (Pled guilty) [9] Time served plus 3 years under supervision [10]
  • Richard Clark - 12 years [11]
  • James Hance - 5 years, 7 months [12]
  • Lavon T. Hanson - (Pled guilty with plea bargain), 1 year, 1 day [13]
  • Dana Dudley Landers - (Pled guilty) [14] 1 year, 9 months with credit for 2 years and 3 months already served

On 7 April 2008, Russell Dean Landers had his 11-year and 3-month sentence extended by 15 years for attempting to extort his release from prison. He and two other inmates at the federal prison in El Reno, Oklahoma had demanded millions of dollars from officials for the use of their names, which they claimed were "copyrighted." They were found guilty of "conspiring to impede the duties of federal prison officials and extortion in (their) efforts to gain release from prison by making financial demands on prison staff and attempting to seize their property." [15][16][17]

On 6 April 2010, Daniel E. Peterson was sentenced to additional time, for filing bogus liens from prison against three federal judges. One of the judges targeted was the judge who sentenced Peterson to prison originally. Petersen was sentenced in 1996 to 15 years. He was convicted on 19 of 20 counts, which included bank fraud and armed robbery. While serving his sentence in a federal prison in Minnesota, Petersen devised a scheme in which to retaliate against three judges in his case.

Federal prosecutors, after investigating, found that Petersen invented a company that supposedly held assets that included a $100 trillion default judgment against the United States. He then sold “shares" of the phony company to fellow inmates and others. He claimed these shares were backed by “redemption certificates" to be redeemed when the judgment was collected.

The judgment he referred to came from a self-created court, after former Secretary of State Madeline Albright declined to respond to his demands. He was demanding $100 trillion dollars, as well as $1 billion per day in interest for unlawfully confining him.

Petersen followed up by filing liens against property owned by the three federal judges, as well as offering bounties for the arrest of the same judges. The purpose was to entice someone to bring the three judges to Minnesota, in order to respond to his liens. [18]

A 2011 NPR report claimed some of the people associated with this case were imprisoned in a highly restrictive Communication Management Unit.[19]

See also


  1. ^ Strange saga of 'freemen' Washington Post/April 1996
  2. ^ Freemen, FBI standoff drags on, Lessons of Waco put into practice CNN March 28, 1996
  3. ^ Reuters: Montana Freemen leader dies in Colorado prison - Accessed 2011-10-21
  4. ^ Leroy M. Schweitzer, prisoner number 02144-046, Federal Bureau of Prisons, U.S. Dep't of Justice, at [1].
  5. ^ Former head of anti-government group found dead in Supermax prison cell, at [2].
  6. ^ Roeder Guilty of Murdering Abortion Provider The Wall Street Journal January 29, 2010
  7. ^
  8. ^ Supermax inmate, 72, found dead Canon City (CO) Daily Record - September 21, 2011
  9. '^ 2 Montana Freemen Plead Guilty Trial Expected To Last 4-5 Weeks CBS News 1998
  10. ^ Federal Judge Sentences 3 Members Of Freemen New York Times November 8, 1998
  11. ^ Montana Freemen leaders receive long prison sentences Seattle Times March 17, 1999
  12. ^
  13. ^
  14. ^
  15. ^
  16. ^
  17. ^
  18. ^
  19. ^ DATA & GRAPHICS: Population Of The Communications Management Units, Margot Williams and Alyson Hurt, NPR, 3-3-11, retrieved 2011 03 04 from

External links

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