Ex-U.S. attorney denies owing convicted drug dealer $100 billion
BY KIM JANSSEN Federal Courts Reporter June 17, 2014 12:10PM
Cherron Phillips leaves the Dirksen Federal building after her court appearance where she's accused of filing false leins on the home of US Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald and other officials Monday 6-16-14. | Kevin Tanaka/For Sun-Times Media ORG XMIT: CST1406161804018778
Updated: July 19, 2014 6:19AM
Former U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald took the stand in federal court Tuesday morning and denied owing a convicted drug dealer $100 billion.
Testifying in the bizarre and at times comical trial of 44-year-old self-proclaimed “sovereign citizen” Cherron Phillips, the highly respected lawyer was one of several stars of Chicago’s legal world called as witnesses by prosecutors.
Along with U.S. District Judge Joan Lefkow, and Magistrate Judges Geraldine Soat Brown and Arlander Keys, Fitzgerald was allegedly targeted with a frivolous $100 billion lien by Phillips in 2011.
Phillips — who has a history of disrupting court proceedings — is charged with abusing the court system. She allegedly tried to file the lien against Fitzgerald’s home as revenge for the 2009 conviction of her brother, drug dealer Devon Phillips.
But Fitzgerald testified he was bewildered by the lien when it was first brought to his attention.
“I don’t owe anybody $100 billion and I don’t believe I owe Devon Phillips a penny!” he boomed.
Cherron Phillips is a follower of the growing so-called “sovereign citizen” movement, whose adherents reject federal authority and clutter court dockets with nonsensical self-penned legal papers, including frivolous liens.
She lived up to her history of attempting to derail court hearings Tuesday, the second day of her trial for placing the bogus liens against 12 federal officials.
She told U.S. District Judge Michael J. Reagan she didn’t recognize the court’s authority and said she wanted her court-appointed attorney Lauren Solomon held liable for any losses she suffers in the case — requests Reagan ignored.
But wearing a blue head scarf, Phillips sat mute as Lefkow, Brown and Keys all also testified against her Tuesday morning.
Lefkow — whose mother and husband were murdered in 2005 by a deranged litigant in an unrelated case — said she’d sentenced Phillips’ brother to prison for dealing cocaine and remembered Cherron Phillips as someone who had “a very confident bearing” when Phillips attempted to intervene in that case with a series of frivolous court filings.
Perhaps for that reason, Lefkow said she was “a little dismayed” to be told she’d been targeted by Phillips’ lien.
And Brown said she was “shocked” and feared the lien would mess up her credit rating, adding that she was “disturbed” when Phillips sent her and other alleged victims apology letters that concluded, “I have but two words — ‘Forgive me.’”
Keys also said he was stunned to be told he’d been slapped with the $100 billion lien.
“My first reaction was, I don’t have $100 billion!,” he said.
Former Chief Judge James Holderman and Assistant U.S. Attorney Thomas Shakeshaft previously also testified that they were targeted by Phillips.
Closing arguments are expected Wednesday.