By SCOTT NORTH
ARLINGTON — Thom Satterlee says he’s a commissioner in a new "Freedom County," and after this evening he may have the law by his side.
The Arlington man said he and others who believe a new county was carved out of much of Snohomish County’s north end five years ago plan to gather at a restaurant here to swear in a new Freedom County sheriff, auditor and coroner.
"We need to start someplace, and we have three people who are qualified and have applied for the positions," Satterlee said Friday.
He declined to identify either of the people who will fill the coroner and auditor spots, other than to say they are both area businessmen. But after being pressed, Satterlee said the prospective sheriff is a man who served "10 years in the FBI" and later had his name legally changed to Fnu Lnu.
FNU LNU (pronounced Fuh-NEW Luh-NEW) is a law enforcement acronym for "first name unknown, last name unknown." There is no phone listing for anybody with that name in the area, and a national database lists only two Fnu Lnus in the country, one living in Texas, the other New Jersey.
Nonetheless, Snohomish County Sheriff Rick Bart said he has agreed to meet with Freedom County’s Fnu Lnu on Tuesday morning.
Bart said he plans to make his position clear.
"I’m going to tell him there’s only one sheriff in the town, and that’s me," he said.
It is against state law to impersonate a police officer.
The man who hopes to be named Freedom County sheriff is acting in good faith and will "be exercising the office and fulfilling the duties of the office of the sheriff of Freedom County, in cooperation, we hope with Sheriff Rick Bart," Satterlee said.
Freedom County’s purported boundaries encompass about 1,000 square miles, nearly half of Snohomish County’s entire area. Some believe the new county has existed since April 1995, when backers presented the Legislature with more than 12,000 signatures calling for its creation. Satterlee also contends he was elected a Freedom County commissioner while on the bus ride to Olympia.
Freedom County even has an official seal, depicting a grinning man who looks like a Revolutionary War Minute Man standing with a foot on a plow, a musket in one hand and a laptop computer balanced on his knee.
But the state Court of Appeals and the state Supreme Court have repeatedly ruled that Freedom County does not exist. A federal lawsuit brought by Freedom County proponents also was tossed out of court.
Undeterred, Freedom County backers in recent months have been serving Snohomish County officials with documents asserting Snohomish County no longer has authority over land-use, planning and building issues in much of its north end.
"The people of Freedom have replaced Snohomish County and they are now starting to rise up against Snohomish County," peacefully and lawfully, he added.
Satterlee last year was warned by the state attorney general that he was treading into potential legal trouble when he sent state and county officials letters threatening to seize their homes if they don’t recognize Freedom County.
In June 1997, U.S. Secret Service agents confiscated "public wealth rebate notes" that Satterlee had attempted to deposit at a bank, in part to fund efforts to create Freedom County, according to documents Satterlee filed with the Snohomish County auditor.
The "notes" had a purported face value of $38 million, supposedly derived from liens that anti-government activists filed against federal officials who were involved in the trial of Washington State Militia members. The leaders of the self-described "patriot" group were convicted of weapons crimes.
Satterlee and others who were trafficking in the militia case "lien" notes were warned to cease and desist or risk prosecution, federal officials said at the time.
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