Man charged with threatening judge through liens

Posted: April 10, 2014

VOORHEES A man now living in Wisconsin has been charged with threatening a public servant and 28 counts of harassment for filing for millions of dollars' worth of fraudulent liens against public officials in South Jersey, authorities said Tuesday.

Michael Rinderle, 29, of Waukesha, was living in Medford Lakes with his wife, Joann Ellis, when she was stopped by police multiple times in January 2013 on violations including driving with a suspended license and failure to register a vehicle.

Rinderle and Ellis identify as part of the "sovereign citizen" movement, according to the Camden County Prosecutor's Office, which announced the charges Tuesday. Adherents do not recognize the authority of federal, state, and municipal law, the office said.

Ellis was eventually taken into custody for those violations, said Jason Laughlin, spokesman for the Camden County Prosecutor's Office. The violations occurred in multiple municipalities in the region, including Medford Lakes, Voorhees, and Winslow.

In retaliation, authorities contend, Rinderle e-mailed a Voorhees Township municipal judge last September, saying he would financially ruin the judge if the charges weren't dropped.

The judge - whom Laughlin declined to name - immediately charged Rinderle with threatening a public servant.

Rinderle then escalated, Laughlin said, by filing liens against the judge and 27 other people, including court staff and police officers from Voorhees and Winslow.

The liens totaled more than $41 million, including $34,196,000 that Rinderle requested be paid in silver dollars, Laughlin said.

"This is par for the course. This is classic escalation of the 'sovereign citizen' vs. the authorities," said Mark Potok, a senior fellow at the Southern Poverty Law Center in Montgomery, Ala., who studies the radical right and hate groups.

"The liens and the threats of financial ruin are classic paper terrorism," Potok said, describing how the liens can be easily filed, affecting credit scores and financial standing but undetected by recipients.

"They file an unbelievable volume of bogus, pseudo-legal claims," he said.

Rinderle was charged April 1 with the 28 harassment counts, Laughlin said, and the liens were removed.

Rinderle is not in custody, Laughlin said, but has a hearing on similar charges next Wednesday in Pennsylvania.

"We'll see if he shows up there. And if he does, then . . . we would file to have him extradited," Laughlin said, noting that Pennsylvania state police have been notified about the case. If Rinderle doesn't appear, Laughlin said, the Prosecutor's Office will consider its options.


jlai@phillynews.com

856-779-3220

@elaijuh

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