SALT LAKE CITY — Ogden constitutionalist Harvey Goff has pleaded guilty in a plea bargain to federal charges stemming from traffic stops in Ogden almost two years ago.
Goff, 55, was indicted in May 2011 for a scheme that amounted to fraud after he filed more than $53 trillion worth of liens against public officials, including two Ogden judges, involved in prosecuting the 2010 speeding citations.
One of the minor traffic cases turned into a felony charge of impersonating a public official when Goff claimed to have immunity as some kind of diplomatic agent of the U.S.
That case is still pending in Ogden before 2nd District Judge Michael Lyon, delayed by Goff’s multiple pro se filings in the case.
Lyon was the target of some of the liens filed by Goff, typically accompanied by notices demanding, for instance, $100,800,000 due Goff immediately, according to court records.
Because the felony case at one point was before him, fellow 2nd District Judge Ernie Jones was also the target of the bogus liens, along with Ogden police officers, county prosecutors and other public employees.
Both judges and some of the other officials harassed by Goff declined to comment.
Goff’s $53 trillion worth of liens were tied to 77 parcels of land in Weber County, including municipal property and private residences associated with the government employees and entities targeted by the liens.
The charges and case files don’t show Goff ever collecting on any of the liens and notices.
Melody Rydalch, spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Salt Lake City, would say only that restitution would be addressed at Goff’s sentencing, set for March 18 before U.S. District Judge David Nuffer.
The restitution, Rydalch said, could include any legal expenses Goff’s victims may have incurred in reaction to the filings against them. She said Goff prefers the term “sovereign citizen” to “constitutionalist.”
Investigated by the FBI and Internal Revenue Service, some of the charges and Goff’s filings are tied to state and federal tax disputes with Goff.
Goff is a distant relative of former Ogden Mayor Clifford Goff, a retired dentist who served in Ogden City Hall in the 1980s and early 1990s. But family members said they only knew Goff’s father and weren’t acquainted with the son.
After Goff’s indictment in May 2011, federal Magistrate Judge Samuel Alba ordered a competency evaluation for Goff after Goff refused to stand at his arraignment when ordered to do so, which led to “an intervention by U.S. Marshals,” according to court records.
Goff refused the appointment of legal counsel, would not acknowledge his name or identity, and claimed his arrest at his Ogden home was a kidnapping.
The psychological testing, to ensure he understood the proceedings against him and was able to assist his public defenders in the case, found him competent.
Some of Goff’s behavior in court brought about his incarceration, leading to several trips to Davis County Jail, where the federal courts send some prisoners. Goff’s refusal to recognize the authority of federal court has deemed him a flight risk.
In reaction to the jailings, Goff at one point filed an affidavit claiming Alba owed him “179 million ounces of silver” for what Goff claimed was wrongful incarceration.
In January of this year, Goff challenged Alba in court again, asking the judge if there were “claims” against him, and if not, he was leaving.
Alba had him arrested and jailed again as Goff tried to leave, according to court documents. Goff was found to be in possession of a cellphone and a tape recorder, which was on, both banned in federal court.
Goff has been incarcerated much of this year and was transported from the Davis jail for his Dec. 20 hearing where his plea bargain was announced.
As part of the plea agreement, federal prosecutors agreed to recommend a 36-month prison sentence for Goff, according to a news release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Salt Lake City.
In return for Goff’s guilty plea to one count of obstruction of justice, prosecutors dismissed 13 other federal counts, including impeding internal revenue laws, fictitious obligations, attempt to commit mail fraud, and mailings in furtherance of a scheme and artifice to defraud.
Ten counts of the indictment related to conduct that started with the 2010 traffic stops in Ogden and continued through subsequent court proceedings in Weber County related to the traffic stops.
Some of the dismissed charges carried potential penalties of up to 25 years in federal prison and $250,000 in fines.