Two anti-government activists, one with former ties to the Montana freemen, are going to federal prison for passing bad checks.
Charles C. Miller, 48, faces more than 12 years in prison and Veryl E. Knowles, 62, will serve more than 11 years for their part in what federal prosecutors say was a scheme to pass $100 million in bogus checks.
Miller, of Vancouver, Wash., had ties to the Montana freeman, an anti-government group in Jordan, Mont., that was involved in the longest siege in U.S. history in 1996.
At sentencing Friday in Seattle, both men told U.S. District Judge John C. Coughenour that he didn’t have jurisdiction over them.
Knowles, formerly of Tacoma, denied he was the person who was indicted or convicted in the case.
“You’re the one I’m sending to prison, sir,” Coughenour shot back.
Knowles presently is serving a six-year term at the Airway Heights Corrections Center after being convicted in Kitsap County of intimidating judges. His federal prison term won’t start until after he completes his state time.
Testimony indicated Knowles and Miller claimed some Washington state officials didn’t file their oaths of office in a timely manner and, therefore, every Washington state resident was owed $45,000.
Acting on that claim, they wrote bogus checks, contending they would be covered by the Washington state risk management office, which handles citizen claims.
A federal criminal indictment accusing Knowles and Miller of bank fraud was returned by a grand jury in February 1997.
In 1994, the state of Washington won an $8.8 million civil judgment against Knowles, his wife, Iris Ahola, and a third man for defrauding 12,000 people.
The defendants were accused of collecting $1.5 million in a “Ponzi scheme” that promised people “humanitarian grants.”
In that scheme, which began in 1991, Knowles placed newspaper ads offering to write grant proposals for $20 to $40. He claimed his clients could get as much as $30,000 in grants.
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