A man who allegedly worked with two cohorts in an attempt bilk the US government out of $14 million in COVID-19 relief funds is a self-described “Moorish sovereign citizen” who doesn’t recognize the authority of the US government, federal prosecutors wrote in court papers Thursday.
The suspect, Amos Mundendi, was charged in April in Manhattan for allegedly working with straw companies in an attempt to get millions from the Small Business Association’s payment protection program amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The alleged fraudsters successfully siphoned $4 million out of the program, according to an indictment against them.
Mundendi, who was living in Texas at the time, was brought by US Marshals to face a judge in Manhattan on Wednesday — and was granted release on $200,000 bail on the condition that his travel be restricted and he surrender his passport, according to court documents.
But prosecutors filed an appeal of the bail decision Thursday, highlighting that he claims to be a “Moorish sovereign citizen” who does not believe federal laws in the US apply to him.
Moorish sovereign citizens are considered an extremist group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, whose members do not recognize the US government and believe black residents in the US “constitute an elite class within American society.”
In their bail appeal, prosecutors included a police report from Dec. 28, 2020, which shows Mundendi, who was born in the Democratic Republic of Congo, refused to follow a Texas cop’s orders after the officer pulled him over for speeding in a Mercedes.
“Officer Hawkins contacted the driver who immediately began recording her and told her that he didn’t have to follow the speed limit because the government was a corporation and cannot tell people what to do,” the police report states.
He then presented the officer with three separate ID cards with different names and dates of birth, court documents state.
Prosecutors also alleged that Mundendi has no legitimate employment, but rather makes money by selling faulty Moorish IDs.
Manhattan federal court judge Paul Engelmayer on Thursday ordered Mundendi remain detained, pending a ruling on prosecutors’ bail appeal.
An attorney for Mundendi did not immediately respond to request for comment.