Local News Spotlight

‘Sovereign citizen’ loses federal appeal of sentence

Court upholds 10-year sentence for notes sold from “The Private Bank of Denny Ray Hardin.”

Updated: 2012-10-14T01:13:52Z


The Kansas City Star

A federal appeals court has rejected a challenge to a 10-year sentence imposed on a Kansas City man convicted last year of selling bogus financial products.

At the time of his bench trial, Denny Ray Hardin, 53, subscribed to a political view that since he was a “sovereign citizen,” the federal court lacked jurisdiction in his case and had no legal authority to judge him.

In its ruling Friday, a three-judge panel of the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals found such arguments “meritless.”

Hardin operated what he called “The Private Bank of Denny Ray Hardin” out of his home and created what he described as “bonded promissory notes.”

Hardin sold almost 2,000 of the notes to dozens of customers, telling them that they were backed by an account at the Federal Reserve Bank and could be used to pay off more than $100 million worth of debt. But the notes were worthless.

“Hardin typically sold the bogus notes for a fee and then mailed them to financial institutions on behalf of the purchaser’s debt, including mortgage debt,” appeals judges wrote. “Hardin continued this course of action even after he was advised about the illegality of his conduct.”

Appeals judges ruled that Hardin’s sentence was “not unreasonable” and noted that U.S. District Judge Gary Fenner in Kansas City could have sentenced him to almost 34 years in prison under federal guidelines.

But prosecutors and the judge felt that such a harsh sentence would overstate the severity of Hardin’s crime.

Hardin is incarcerated at a medium security federal prison in Illinois.

To reach Mark Morris, call 816-234-4310 or send email to mmorris@kcstar.com.

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