By Ken Ritter
LAS VEGAS — An ex-convict who renounced his adherence to a sovereign citizen philosophy was sentenced Monday to five years’ probation for plotting to kidnap police officers to call attention to his anti-government views.
David Allen Brutsche, 43, spent nearly 20 minutes apologizing to Clark County District Judge Elissa Cadish and pledging to cooperate with probation officers after he’s released from jail next month.
“I want to get out and live like everyone else,” Brutsche said. “I don’t want trouble. It’s too much problem to go this route.”
The judge ordered Brutsche not to associate with any known followers of the anti-government movement and to find a job other than selling water on the Las Vegas Strip. She said that if Brutsche violates terms of his probation, he faces a prison term of up to six years. He pleaded guilty to felony conspiracy to kidnap police officers in February.
Brutsche, a convicted sex offender from California, came to the attention of authorities in Las Vegas during arrests for driving violations and misdemeanor offenses like selling and giving away bottled water on the Strip without a business license.
In early court appearances, he espoused the extremist anti-authority theory that people can declare themselves sovereign and outside the bounds of federal and local legal constraints.
He said Monday that spending more than seven months in isolation in a Las Vegas jail changed his mind.
“I’ve had a lot of time sitting in jail to think,” he said. “Things have changed.”
When Brutsche and a woman, Devon Campbell Newman, were arrested Aug. 20, police described them as domestic terrorists intent on kidnapping, torturing and killing random police officers and posting video of the acts on the Internet.
The aim, police said, was to attract attention to the anti-authority ideals.
But prosecutors in September dropped the two most serious charges — conspiracy to commit murder and attempted kidnapping with a weapon. He said Monday that he willingly took a plea deal that had him plead guilty Jan. 27 to misdemeanor conspiracy to commit prohibited acts by a sex offender in one case and enter the same plea Feb. 3 to felony conspiracy to kidnap police officers in the sovereign citizen case.
Newman, 68, a former paralegal who once served as a publicist for the Church of Scientology, denied any sovereign citizen affiliation. She pleaded guilty in December to a misdemeanor conspiracy to commit false imprisonment charge, was sentenced to one year of probation and freed from jail.
Police acknowledged spending tens of thousands of dollars stationing an officer with Brutsche and Newman for four months, compiling hundreds of hours of recordings of the alleged plot.
Brutsche, who served as his own attorney, told the judge on Monday that he never saw the evidence police said they gathered against him. He said he felt he had been entrapped.
Federal authorities regard sovereign citizen extremists as domestic terrorists, and authorities have linked the groups to violent police confrontations in recent years.
But the FBI and U.S. attorney’s office never became involved in the Las Vegas case against Brutsche and Newman.