WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. -- Justin Sutton, 26, of Newburgh, N.Y. has been charged with identity theft, fraud and larceny in four different towns and cities in Westchester County despite making claims in court that he is a "sovereign citizen" and is not subject to county, state and federal laws.
Sutton was accused of using stolen personal information throughout Westchester, including at J.P. Morgan Chase Bank branches in Peekskill and Yorktown; a Mahopac National Bank branch in Yonkers; a True Religion Brand Jeans store in White Plains; a Nieman Marcus store in White Plains;The Loop store in Yonkers and a Wal-Mart in White Plains.
He was accused of stealing approximately $9,000.
He first came to the attention of authorities when store employees at the Nieman Marcus in White Plains realized the defendant was attempting to use a stolen identity to purchase store merchandise. Further investigation by the Westchester County Police, the Bedford Police Department, and the Westchester County District Attorney's Office ultimately uncovered the full extent of his actions.
He was arrested by the Westchester County Police.
Following his arrest, Sutton made a number of statements in various local courts throughout Westchester County. Such statements have included the defendant claiming "common law jurisdiction," invoking the "law of contracts," and attempting to invoke a "right not to proceed with your courts," according to a release
For decades, across the U.S. similar statements have been made by individuals attempting to use the labguage of the so-called "Sovereign Citizen Movement."
The "Sovereign Citizen Movement" is described as a loose collection of individuals who claim, among other things, that they are not subject to federal, state, and local laws. Such claims have been repeatedly rejected by federal and state courts throughout the country.
“As a government and society we take pride in and encourage people to pursue and follow whatever beliefs they choose. However, when individuals, such as this defendant, create an alternative reality for the purpose their own self interest, as in this case to scheme and defraud, they will be vigorously prosecuted,” District Attorney Janet DiFiore said in a statement.
Sutton was sent to the county jail. His next court date is Jan. 8, 2014 and he will continue to represent himself.
He faces a maximum sentence of seven years in state prison.