Western Slope Sovereign Citizen Sentenced to Federal Prison for Bank Fraud and Related Crimes
DENVER – Rocky Hutson, age 59, of Grand Junction, Colorado, and a self-proclaimed sovereign citizen, was sentenced to serve 70 months (nearly 6 years) in federal prison for false claims, creating fictious financial instruments and bank fraud, U.S. Attorney Bob Troyer, FBI Denver Division Special Agent in Charge Calvin Shivers and Department of Education Special Agent in Charge Adam Shandeling announced. After serving his prison sentence, Hutson will then spend 3 years on supervised release. The defendant appeared at the sentencing hearing free on bond. He was ordered to report to a prison facility within 15 days of designation. On January 11, 2018 the defendant was found guilty of bank fraud and related crimes following a jury trial.
In late 2011 and early 2012, Hutson devised a scheme to frustrate or delay the legitimate collection of debts that included student loans, small business loans, car loans, and home mortgages. The defendant created various documents that appeared to be legitimate financial instruments but were in fact worthless and gave them to various acquaintances to submit in payment of debts. If a financial institution refused to accept the worthless instrument as payment, Hutson often made phone calls or sent letters to the bank or its attorneys in an effort to convince them the instruments were legitimate. In one case, he even went so far as to threaten to have a bank employee thrown in jail for refusing the payment. A few months later, in May of 2012, he began a similar course of conduct that involved submitting false claims to the Department of Agriculture in attempts not only to pay off existing debts but also to purchase new items, including seventeen Harley-Davidson motorcycles and a shopping center worth over $7 million.
Testimony at trial indicated that Hutson had a hand in submitting nearly $14.7 million worth of false claims to the Department of Agriculture and about $6.3 million worth of fictitious financial instruments to various financial institutions. Although there was ultimately no loss to the federal government, banks lost about $47,000 due to Hutson’s schemes, and various individuals suffered smaller losses as a result of his actions. According to the prosecution, Hutson’s true motivation was a sincere and abiding dislike of the government, banks, and the financial system in general as well as his affiliation with a “sovereign citizen” group known as the “Republic for the United States of America.”
The jury convicted Hutson of all fourteen counts with which he was charged, including five counts of filing false claims with the Department of Agriculture, six counts of creating fictitious financial instruments, and three counts of bank fraud.
“Americans have every right to believe whatever ideology they want,” said U.S. Attorney Bob Troyer. “But they don’t have a right to hide behind any ideology to manipulate others in violation of the law and for their own personal gain. That’s what the defendant did, and he’ll be punished for it. Our prosecutors and the FBI made sure of that.”
"The FBI is committed to aggressively pursuing those who defraud our banking institutions. The creation of fictitious financial instruments to avoid debt payment is a felony,” said FBI Denver Special Agent in Charge Calvin Shivers. “The recent sentencing of Rocky Hudson should deter others who engage in these types of fraud schemes."
Hutson was indicted in June 2016 as the result of a widespread investigation by the FBI and the Department of Education OIG into fraudulent debt elimination tactics promoted by the sovereign citizen movement on the western slope of Colorado. The defendant was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Daniel Burrows and Peter Hautzinger.