Seven burglary suspects claim they had the right to “occupy” a vacant home in Waldorf, Md., saying they are sovereign citizens, according to the Charles County Sheriff’s Office.
Sheriff’s officers found them in a bank-owned home in the 4900 block of Olympia Place Wednesday evening after reports of unusual activity. The broke a padlock to gain entry and lived there for about a month, according to the sheriff's office.
The home has some furnishings, News4's Darcy Spencer reported, but Diane Richardson of the sheriff's office said the electricity was shut off.
All seven alleged squatters were arrested and charged with burglary. One of them, 46-year-old Tia Carpenter, was charged with assaulting officer for allegedly biting an officer’s arm as he placed her under arrest, according to the sheriff’s office.
People who claim sovereign citizenship have strong anti-government views and do not recognize laws regarding things like taxes, proper identification and vehicle registration, the sheriff’s office said.
Two of the suspects – 29-year-old Lamont Butler and 34-year-old Sakita Holly – were arrested in Montgomery County in January for the same thing, authorities said.
Officers responding to a burglary in progress report at an unoccupied home for sale in the 7000 block of Natelli Woods Lane in Bethesda the afternoon of Jan. 3 found no one there, but witnesses told of seeing a black man and a black woman inside, police said. Those witnesses told police the man said the land belonged to “his people and his tribe.”
Late Jan. 5, police responded to another burglary in progress report at the home and found Butler, who told officers he was a member of the Moorish Nation and had the right to claim the property, police said. Detectives determined Butler conspired with Holly and an unidentified third person.
"They live from one place to another," Richardson said. "They get caught, they go to jail, they make bond, they get out of jail, they go find another place to break in to and they live there until they're caught again."
Investigators charged Butler and Holly with first-degree burglary. They posted bond and are awaiting trial.
In addition to Butler, Holly and Carpenter, also charged in Charles County are 28-year-old Artez Womack, 19-year-old Kenneth Mitchell Jr., 25-year-old Rashid Daniels and 28-year-old Lashonda Washington.