Las Vegas Sun

September 22, 2023


Suspects in Sovereign Citizens case make first appearance in court

Sovereign Citizens in Court

Leila Navidi

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

Updated Friday, Aug. 23, 2013 | 10:04 a.m.

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 »

The self-proclaimed sovereign citizens arrested earlier this week after undercover officers unraveled their alleged plot to execute random police officers likely will remain in jail for the foreseeable future.

Roommates David Brustche, 42, and Devon Newman, 67, appeared this morning in Las Vegas Justice Court. Court marshals led them in separately to avoid them being in the courtroom at the same time.

Justice of the Peace Conrad Hafen set bail at $600,000 for Brutsche and appointed him a public defender despite his pleas to the contrary.

"I do not need the public defender," said Brutsche, who was shackled and wearing orange restraint gloves. "I can speak for myself."

Hafen explained he was assigning a public defender now but left open the possibility Brutsche could represent himself at future hearings.

The answer didn't seem to satisfy Brutsche, who continued interrupting the judge, prompting Hafen to issue a stern warning.

"Sir, one more word and it's contempt, so you just stand there," Hafen said.

Public defender Jeremy Wood had asked for a bail amount of $100,000; Chief Deputy District Attorney Tom Carroll argued for bail to be set at $500,000.

Citing Brutsche's three prior felony convictions, Hafen set bail at $600,000.

"I'm going to object to the entire proceedings at this point, for the record," Brutsche said before being led out of the courtroom.

His co-defendant, Newman, entered the courtroom next and said she didn't understand the charges.

The Clark County District Attorney's Office has charged the pair with conspiracy to commit murder, conspiracy to commit kidnapping and attempted first-degree kidnapping with use of a deadly weapon.

Hafen appointed defense attorney Carl Arnold to represent Newman. Because Arnold was not present, Newman will return to the courtroom Monday so attorneys can discuss her bail.

Newman will remain in custody until then, Hafen ordered.

Hafen also set a preliminary hearing date of Sept. 9 for Brutsche and Newman.

Like Brutsche, Newman didn't leave the courtroom without also objecting to her arrest and incarceration.

"I have hurt no one," she said. "I wish to be released on bail."

Metro Police conducted a four-month investigation leading to arrests earlier this week of Brutsche and Newman.

Members of the Sovereign Citizens movement believe federal, state and local governments operate illegally. According to the FBI, Sovereign Citizens have been known to not pay their taxes, create false license plates, driver’s licenses and currency. Since 2000, lone-offender sovereign-citizen extremists have killed at least six law enforcement officers, the FBI said.

Undercover Metro officers, posing as people interested in joining the Sovereign Citizens movement, infiltrated the group and met with the suspects about 30 times since April, in the process learning of their detailed plans to "snatch and grab" random police officers, try them for treason in a “sovereign” court and execute them, according to arrest reports released Thursday.

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