A man identified by authorities as a “sovereign citizen” and accused of taking over a Las Vegas home and claiming ownership of the property was indicted on theft and burglary charges Thursday.
Thomas Benson, who has filed federal lawsuits against the government and the Las Vegas Review-Journal, faces seven counts. They are: one count each of offering a false instrument for filing or record, theft in the amount of $3,500 or more, interfering with public officer, preventing or dissuading person from testifying or producing evidence bribing or intimidating witness to influence testimony; and two counts of burglary.
Chief Judge Elizabeth Gonzalez on Thursday also issued a $500,000 arrest warrant.
Through a spokeswoman, the Nevada Attorney General’s office, which obtained the indictment, declined to comment on the charges.
The Review-Journal reported in November that Benson sued for a 2-acre piece of property with a guest house and a 5,400-square-foot main house off Ann Road and the 215 Beltway, which Carol and Myles Catania lived in before they were evicted.
Around the time Benson sued for the spread, wooden barricades blocked part of the driveway, and a No Trespassing sign stood out front with the name and phone number of his partner in the lawsuit.
Since then, Benson has sued the newspaper and reporter Eli Segall, who wrote the story about him, in federal court and filed a cease and desist letter against Senior Deputy Attorney General Jason Gunnell, the lead prosecutor in the criminal case against Benson.
Through a spokeswoman, the Attorney General’s office declined to comment on the charges. Benson could not be reached for comment.
Benson’s civil trespass lawsuit, which asks for $5.4 million, also names the city of Las Vegas, Clark County, Nevada, the Metropolitan Police Department and the FBI, among others.
The newspaper has reported that Benson is a purported “sovereign citizen,” or a follower of anti-government ideology whose adherents are known for financial scams, nonsensical writings and occasional violence. He has said in court papers that he’s “not a person” and showed his “proof of life” with blue footprints, though he’s also been charged at least twice in Clark County over fraudulent checks.
In his claim against the newspaper, however, Benson wrote that he “never claimed to be a ‘sovereign citizen.’”
Instead, he identifies as a “people of Nevada” and a “sworn CUSA Marshal.”
Metro has accused Benson more than once of being a sovereign. A detective investigating a bogus $18,000 check signed by Benson reported in 2013 that he was recognized from other investigations and believed to subscribe to sovereign ideology.
The case was later dismissed, apparently in a deal that led to a guilty plea in another check case, court records indicate. He received probation and a suspended prison sentence.
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Charges against Thomas Benson
- Offering a false instrument for filing or record
- Theft in the mount of $3,500 or more
- Interfering with public officer
- Preventing or dissuading person from testifying or producing evidence
- bribing or intimidating witness to influence testimony
- Burglary (2 counts)