Michigan Man Tries to Pay Taxes With Three $1 Million Checks, They Bounce

A Michigan man attempted to pay his taxes with three $1 million checks that bounced and he now is facing felony charges.

Damon Montgomery, 54, sent three checks to the state Treasury in January of 2021 to pay his taxes, but all three bounced because they contained routing numbers for TCF Bank, at which he did not have an account, according to a news release from the Michigan Attorney General's office. The checks were made out to the State of Michigan for $1 million each.

Montgomery is facing three counts of no-account check, the news release said. He could face up to two years in prison or a $500 fine for each count.

"As residents of Michigan, we share the legal obligation to pay income tax," Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel said in the release. "These taxes pay for our schools, our roads, our government services. Cheating on taxes hurts everyone and is fundamentally unfair to everyone else who abides by the law. We will continue to work with our partners at Treasury to ensure fairness."

Montgomery's arraignment is set for February 22 at 9:30 a.m., the release said. His case has been assigned to Ingham County Judge Louise Alderson.

Montgomery insists that he is a sovereign citizen, thus exempt from certain Michigan laws, according to the release. That includes paying taxes. A sovereign citizen believes they—not judges, juries, law enforcement or elected officials—should determine which laws to follow, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center.

Other "sovereign citizens" have tried to use their ideology to bypass laws and failed.

In 2020, Michael Levant William of Savannah, Georgia, was sentence to 110 months in prison for possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, said Bobby L. Christine, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Georgia in a release from the Department of Justice (DOJ). Williams claimed that being a sovereign citizen exempted him from the law that made it illegal for someone like him, convicted of a felony, to carry a gun.

Another man, Ronald Allen Wright, of Columbia, South Carolina, was sentenced in 2019 to 10 years in prison after a jury found him guilty of tax fraud and conspiracy to commit wire fraud, another release from the DOJ said.

His conviction stemmed from the sovereign citizen ideology, where they also argue that debts can be dismissed by accessing secret government bank accounts. Wright tried to discharge almost $15 million of consumer debt, evidence presented at the trial showed.

Update 2/10/22, 4:00 p.m. ET: This story was updated to include additional information.

Damon Montgomery, Charges, Taxes, Fraudulent Checks
Damon Montgomery of Michigan is facing three felony counts of no-account check, a news release from the state attorney general's office said. Getty Images