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Former Subway pitchman Jared Fogle has tried to argue that he’s a “sovereign citizen,” claiming a federal court that convicted him on child pornography and sexual conduct involving minors did not have the authority to do it.
Fogle filed a motion on his own earlier this month in U.S. District Court in the Southern District of Indiana, saying he wanted to correct an “error” regarding subject matter jurisdiction in the case.
That he is a sovereign citizen — a group the FBI calls “a domestic terrorist movement,” believing “federal, state, and local governments operate illegally.” In his motion, Fogle pointed to a “friend of the court” brief that was previously filed by a fellow inmate in the same federal prison, stating, “whether a judicial judgment is lawful depends on whether the sovereign has authority to render it.”
Fogle’s argument was thrown out.
“If Fogle is now claiming to be ‘sovereign’, the Seventh Circuit has rejected theories of individual sovereignty, immunity from prosecution, and their ilk,” U.S. District Judge Tanya Walton Pratt wrote Wednesday in her decision on the matter. She added that “regardless of his theory, Fogle’s challenge of this Court’s jurisdiction is rejected.”
In her ruling, the judge called attention to the fact that Fogle had pleaded guilty in 2015 to one count of distributing and receiving child pornography and one count of traveling and attempting to travel to engage in illicit sexual conduct with a minor. He was sentenced the next year to more than 15 years in federal prison — a ruling that was reaffirmed upon appeal in a case that has captured national headlines.
As The Washington Post reported, court documents claimed that Fogle solicited commercial sex online and traveled to engage in sex with minors.
Authorities also said Fogle had received photos and videos of nude children from the former executive director of his charity foundation, Russell Taylor, who pleaded guilty to charges of child exploitation and child pornography and was sentenced to 27 years in prison.
Fogle is not the first to attempt to use the “sovereign citizen” defense in court.
Earlier this year, Markeith Loyd, who is accused of killing his pregnant ex-girlfriend and an Orlando police officer who tried to arrest him, argued that the government did not have the jurisdiction to charge him.
As The Post’s Peter Holley reported in March, Loyd, who was charged with first-degree murder and attempted first-degree murder, would not enter a plea at all, telling the judge: “Y’all can’t do nothing to me.”
In 2011, the FBI said the sovereign citizen movement is a threat to authorities.
“Sovereign citizens do not represent an anarchist group, nor are they a militia, although they sometimes use or buy illegal weapons,” according to the FBI’s Counterterrorism Analysis Section.
“Rather, they operate as individuals without established leadership and only come together in loosely affiliated groups to train, help each other with paperwork, or socialize and talk about their ideology. They may refer to themselves as ‘constitutionalists’ or ‘freemen,’ which is not necessarily a connection to a specific group, but, rather, an indication that they are free from government control. They follow their own set of laws. While the philosophies and conspiracy theories can vary from person to person, their core beliefs are the same: The government operates outside of its jurisdiction. Because of this belief, they do not recognize federal, state, or local laws, policies, or regulations.”
Fogle, who is serving his sentence at the Englewood Federal Correctional Institution in Littleton, Colo., filed his recent motion pro se, meaning he did so on his own without any legal representation.
Attorneys who previously represented him in the case said they have not served as his counsel for years and have no knowledge of the motion.