MEMPHIS, TN (abc24.com) - Want a new house? Just pick one and squat on it. You won't be alone. The number of bogus property claims filed by the sovereign citizens is up in Shelby County, and the targets are often homes in foreclosure.
"They used to be rare and it would catch my employees' attention," said Tom Leatherwood, Shelby County Register. "They have become more prolific here recently, and by recently I would say the last two to three years they have been increasing their filings here."
Last month, Tabitha Gentry paid $74 to submit paperwork in Leatherwood's office stating she owned a mansion on the 600 block of South Shady Grove Road. In that paperwork, Gentry claimed she owned the $3.2 million mansion under the laws of the Moorish National Republic.
"It creates a headache, and it is a problem when they file documents that infringe on other peoples rights," Leatherwood said.
Leatherwood estimated his office sees about 12-15 sovereign citizen filings a month.
"They are saying they can access secret accounts within the federal government to pay their bills," he said.
On Monday, a defiant Gentry faced a judge, claiming she was a sovereign citizen and that U.S. laws did not apply to her. The judge kept her bond at $2 million.
Gentry was arrested on Thursday night after being pulled over in a white Jaguar sedan. Since, many have questioned how Gentry got the Jaguar. Friends say Gentry used her federal tax return to buy the luxury sedan a few weeks ago at an auction in Arkansas.
"Tab, she is smart, she is smart, she's a smart girl," said Marty Stevenson, Gentry's friend. "She ain't no dumb girl, she just talk a lot, she just run her mouth a lot."
Gentry is due back in court on March 26th.