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August 22, 2014

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Defendant renounces sovereign philosophy in Las Vegas case

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Leila Navidi

David Brutsche appears in Las Vegas Justice Court at the Regional Justice Center on Friday, Aug. 23, 2013.

Sovereign Citizens in Court

Sovereign citizen David Brutsche appears in Las Vegas Justice Court at the Regional Justice Center on Friday, August 23, 2013. Launch slideshow »

An ex-convict who pleaded guilty to conspiring to kidnap Las Vegas police officers told a judge on Wednesday that he no longer adhered to the anti-government sovereign citizen philosophy that prosecutors said underpinned the plot.

David Allen Brutsche used a chance to speak before sentencing Wednesday in a separate failure to register as a sex offender case to apologize for, in his words, "disrespecting the court" in previous appearances.

"I'm renouncing my sovereignty," the 43-year-old Brutsche said as he stood in shackles and served as his own lawyer before Senior Clark County District Judge J. Charles Thompson.

"I just want to be a citizen like everyone else," Brutsche said. "I don't like jail. I've had enough."

Brutsche, a convicted sex offender from California, previously espoused an extremist anti-authority theory that people can declare themselves sovereign and outside the bounds of federal and local legal constraints.

Thompson sentenced Brutsche, as expected, to 364 days in jail as part of a multiple-case deal with prosecutors.

Brutsche pleaded guilty Jan. 27 to misdemeanor conspiracy to commit prohibited acts by a sex offender, and he pleaded guilty Feb. 3 to felony conspiracy to kidnap police officers.

Brutsche is expected to receive five years' probation at sentencing April 7 in the kidnap conspiracy case.

With good behavior and time already served, Brutsche could be released this summer.

The plea deal brought a quiet end to a case that Las Vegas police called a domestic terror operation last August after they arrested Brutsche and Devon Campbell Newman.

Police acknowledged spending tens of thousands of dollars on an undercover operation that put an officer with Brutsche and Newman for four months, compiling hundreds of hours of recordings of an alleged plot to kidnap, torture, videotape and kill police officers.

Brutsche said Feb. 3 he believed he was entrapped by police who focused on him after he questioned their authority during frequent traffic stops and run-ins for selling and giving away bottled water on the Las Vegas Strip.

Federal authorities regard sovereign-citizen extremists as domestic terrorists, and authorities have linked the groups to violent police confrontations in recent years.

But the FBI and U.S. Attorney's Office never became involved in the case against Brutsche and Newman.

Las Vegas police alleged that Brutsche and Newman conducted training sessions about sovereign citizen philosophy, shopped for guns and rigged a vacant house to hide captives bound to wooden beams during interrogation.

A police report alleged that Brutsche and Newman recorded and planned to post videos about their actions, and that Brutsche expected the publicity of a police officer abduction, "trial" and execution would draw a large following.

But Clark County prosecutors quickly abandoned the two most serious charges — conspiracy to commit murder and attempted armed kidnapping.

Newman, a 68-year-old former paralegal, denied any sovereign citizen affiliation.

She pleaded guilty in December to a misdemeanor conspiracy to commit false imprisonment charge, was sentenced to one year of probation, and was freed from jail.

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