(WSVN) - The run is over for a former South Florida man who believed he was above the law. He’s now facing decades behind bars. 7’s Karen Hensel investigates.
It was 2015 when 7News viewers were introduced to Anthony Williams. That’s when longtime investigative reporter Carmel Cafiero first met with Williams at this Cooper City home.
Williams wanted to talk to Carmel about her story on sovereign citizens, people who falsely believe they’re immune to laws, like paying taxes or having a driver’s license.
Carmel Cafiero: “Do you have a driver’s license?”
Anthony Williams: “No, I do not.”
Carmel Cafiero: “Have you been ticketed?”
Anthony Williams: “Yes, I have.”
Although Williams said he was not a sovereign citizen, he carried a “Special Police” badge and called himself a “private attorney general,” which is common among people in the movement.
Anthony Williams: “That’s not a de facto government ID. I fly with this ID.
Williams had the ID, a badge, and handcuffs when he was arrested after flying into Fort Lauderdale in November 2015.
We were at the airport when Williams was cuffed, charged with practicing law without a license in a Broward foreclosure case.
Carmel Cafiero: “Do you think that this is an indication that maybe you don’t understand the law as well as you think you do?”
Anthony Williams: “You know I know, and you’re just as dishonest as they are.”
Fast forward five years and more than 4,800 miles. Anthony Williams was in Hawaii, awaiting his fate on far more serious charges.
Anthony Williams: “I am a private attorney general, or an attorney-in-fact.”
But the fact is, Anthony Williams is not a licensed attorney. The Common Law Office of America website he created offered services like mortgage reduction and foreclosure assistance.
After an investigation led by the FBI, Williams was indicted on 32 counts of wire and mail fraud.
Prosecutors say: “Williams marketed a fraudulent mortgage debt reduction scheme to distressed homeowners, who were mostly non-native English speakers…”
After a four-week trial, where he represented himself, a jury convicted Williams on all charges.
He appeared via video conference at his October sentencing hearing.
Anthony Williams: “They’re talking about I targeted vulnerable Filipinos. Filipino people were not the only people that I had as clients. I had Caucasian clients. I had Samoan clients. I had Hawaiian clients. I had African-American clients. I had Hispanic clients. None of them were vulnerable.”
The feds say Williams “fraudulently obtained” more than $230,000 from 112 victims, filing bogus documents “without providing any legitimate services.”
Williams maintains his innocence.
Anthony Williams: “There was nothing that I did that was fraudulent, or intended to be fraudulent, or that was fraudulent, against any homeowner, in any state, let alone here in Hawaii.”
The judge’s sentence: 20 years in federal prison.
Judge: “I believe his sentence provides just punishment, and equally important, I hope it serves as adequate deterrence to others.”
Over the years, Williams has repeatedly challenged judges.
Anthony Williams, to judge in 2015: “Are you going to violate my constitutional rights, sir?”
It hasn’t worked, whether in South Florida in 2015…
Anthony Williams, 2015: “OK, deputy, I need you to arrest this judge for violation.”
Judge: “OK, we’re all gonna stop laughing right now.”
Or in Hawaii in 2020.
Anthony Williams: “I just want to place on the record that all of you are going to pay for this. You’re going to go to jail for this, because I’m not going to let you violate my rights like this.”
Williams is no longer in Hawaii. He’s now back in South Florida, here at the Federal Detention Center in Miami, but before he can even begin to serve his 20-year federal sentence, which he’s already appealed, he must first finish a 15-year sentence in a state grand theft case.
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