Tuesday, July 21, 2009 | 2 a.m.
Beyond the Sun
Shawn Rice, one of the leaders of the sovereign citizens movement, is back in federal custody.
FBI agents arrested Rice in the small Arizona town of Paulden on Saturday. He is charged with failing to appear at a June 22 hearing in his federal money-laundering case in Las Vegas.
He will be held in Flagstaff until U.S. marshals send him to Las Vegas.
U.S. Magistrate Robert Johnston, who authorized the arrest warrant, recently blocked Rice from flooding the court with documents without the knowledge of his court-appointed lawyer.
Rice, who purports to be an attorney and a rabbi, was charged in the money-laundering case this year with another leader of the anti-government movement, Samuel Davis, following a three-year undercover FBI investigation.
Sovereign citizens reject the authority of the government and say they are not obligated to pay taxes.
Lawyers for Dr. Mark Kabins, an orthopedic spine surgeon charged in the government’s ongoing investigation into medical and legal fraud, are cranking up the defense.
Led by attorney David Chesnoff, the lawyers recently filed a motion seeking to dismiss federal conspiracy and fraud charges against the 48-year-old Kabins, alleging sources within the government violated grand jury secrecy laws by leaking information about the investigation to local journalists.
This is not the first time such a motion has been filed in a federal criminal case. Judges are reluctant to press reporters to reveal their sources because Nevada has a shield law that allows reporters to withhold that information. But judges have no qualms about putting prosecutors on the hot seat.
Although prosecutors and federal agents are barred from disclosing information about ongoing grand jury investigations, witnesses appearing before a grand jury and their lawyers are not subject to the same prohibition, so the government has deniability.
As this motion plays out in federal court, a lawyer who represents two key government witnesses in the Kabins case also is facing pressure from the defense.
Chesnoff and company have filed a motion seeking to force George Kelesis to turn over his notes and other documents relating to his representation of two physicians, John Thalgott and Ben Venger, who were given immunity to testify in the fraud investigation.
Kelesis has been associated over the years with government witnesses in other high-profile federal investigations, including that of former topless-nightclub owner Michael Galardi.
In the legal arena, Las Vegas attorney Robert Lueck has proved he’s not afraid to stand up to anybody, even the Nevada Supreme Court.
This month the high court ordered Lueck to explain in writing his motives for asking it to consider taking away Robert Teuton’s family court judgeship. Teuton was appointed by Gov. Jim Gibbons in August to finish the term of retired Family Court Judge Gerald Hardcastle.
Well, Lueck responded last week, probably not to the Supreme Court’s liking.
He questioned whether the court was looking for a “marginal and rather dubious technicality” to avoid a public discussion of the constitutional issues that may prevent Teuton from remaining on the bench.
Lueck, who competed with Teuton for the appointment, argues that under the Nevada Constitution, Teuton’s appointment expired Jan. 5 because he didn’t run in the November general election.
But Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto contends that Teuton was unable to run in November because he was appointed too late, by law, to get his name on the November ballot. Therefore, his term expires in January 2011, following the November 2010 general election.
Lueck told the Supreme Court in his response that he petitioned for Teuton’s removal not “out of spite, ill will or malice,” but rather out of a “reluctant” sense of duty to step in when the attorney general and governor failed to do so.
“There was a glaring and festering constitutional problem that needed to be addressed in order to maintain the integrity of our appointment and elective systems for public officials,” Lueck wrote.