This will be a relatively short post, updating my series about the ConspiraSea Cruise and the people I met there. For those who haven’t read it, the cruise was a week-long conference for conspiracy theorists. One of the speakers was Sean David Morton, who claimed he could teach people to stop paying taxes, win any court case, and make money by creating esoteric financial instruments. Eighteen months later, he’s been convicted of tax fraud and issuing false financial instruments. And on Monday, he skipped his sentencing hearing and became a fugitive.
Sean, if you’re reading this, call a lawyer. Please. You tried your legal theories in court and they failed, just like they’ve always failed every time anyone has ever tested them in court. They haven’t worked. They don’t work. They won’t ever work. I know you don’t want to hear this from a skeptic and a critic, but I think you also know it’s the best thing you can do for yourself and your family. Call a lawyer, and get some expert advice. They’re going to tell you to turn yourself in, and you should. It’s the best way to get ahead of this situation.
So for everyone else, here’s the situation. Morton was under indictment when I met him, although we didn’t know that because the indictment was sealed. He was essentially charged with taking his own advice, doing the things that he was teaching people at the conference to do. The indictment included over fifty counts of fraud and filing false tax returns. When the conference ended and we all disembarked, IRS agents were waiting for him. They arrested him on the spot, but he was soon released on bail.
Morton made his trial a showcase of ineffective and counterproductive pseudolegal theories. There are dozens and dozens of examples of strange, silly, and totally pointless tactics that accomplished nothing but adding time to his eventual sentence. And it wasn’t just during the trial itself. Before the trial he claimed he’d be calling Donald Trump as a witness; after his conviction, he declared the verdict void, tried to withdraw his “not guilty” plea, and filed a motion demanding to know the nature of the charges against him. The signature block on his motions is a museum-quality display of pseudolegal gibberish:
So with that kind of defense, obviously the jury convicted Morton. That was in April. He stayed free pending his sentencing hearing, where the judge would consider recommendations from both sides and impose a sentence. Theoretically he’s facing almost 600 years, but realistically the sentence is calculated according to a set of standard guidelines. The DOJ filed a memo recommending that the judge impose an 87-month sentence, right in the middle of the guideline range. That recommendation would have been just 70 months, but the prosecutors asked for an enhancement based on Morton’s “obstreperous” conduct. This is the longest and most detailed part of their memorandum, setting out a laundry list of meticulously documented nonsense motions and timewasting stunts Morton pulled before, during, and after trial.
They also notified the court that they’d ask for Morton, who was out on his $10,000 bail this whole time, to be taken into custody immediately at his sentencing hearing. (Normally defendants get some time to put their affairs in order, like making arrangements for children and pets.) They pointed out that he constantly denied that the court had jurisdiction over him, and that he had “passports and Canadian identification.” In other words, Morton’s pseudolegal antics earned him a recommendation for an extra year in prison and a request that he be handcuffed as soon as the sentence was pronounced.
Well, the feds were right. Morton turned out to be a flight risk, just as they predicted. He beat them to the punch, though, and skipped his sentencing hearing altogether. The judge issued an arrest warrant on the spot, and Morton is now a fugitive.
I don’t have a lot of deep insight into this case, or meaningful lessons to draw from it. His decision to flee was deeply irrational, but I suspect motivated by fear more than any subtle and nuanced psychological factors. The guy is facing about a decade in prison, and that’s terrifying.
But if I sympathize with what he must have been feeling, we have to point out that he’s guilty. He didn’t just steal money from the government, he took money from innocent people and put them in extreme legal and financial jeopardy. The people who trusted him didn’t get their debts erased or their taxes eased, and didn’t win court cases–they just wound up poorer and in worse condition than when they started, because they trusted someone who has a talent for deception but had no idea of how to actually help them.
And bolting was objectively a very foolish thing to do. He’s forfeited his bond, so he’ll be on the hook for that $10,000. That’s not so much, given that he’s probably going to be ordered to repay the $500,000 to the IRS, but to some of us $10,000 is a lot of money. More importantly, he’s going to add even more time to his sentence—he could do as much as 2-3 additional years for skipping his court date. The calculation is a little loose, since these are just advisory ranges the court can disregard, but if you take into account the time he may get for his obstreperous conduct, it’s likely Morton has bought himself over 50 months, or 4 years, of additional time. And I can’t even begin to predict the consequences to how he’ll eventually serve his time, but I think minimum security is a lot less likely now.
So if running was so heavily and obviously against his self-interest, why did he do it? Well, Morton called into the Strange Universe radio show—until recently, his own show—on the day of the sentencing hearing. He explained that he’d filed a motion with the Supreme Court, and that they had already (or would soon) issued an order vacating his conviction and exonerating him. He claimed that the only reason the court in his case didn’t know this was that the Supreme Court hadn’t sent the paperwork down there yet. This is, of course, nonsense. Morton’s legal gibberish has failed every single time it’s been attempted, and the Supreme Court has never been, is not, and will not be an exception. If Morton really believed that he was about to be rescued by the Supreme Court, that was a supremely irrational belief.
One of the models of irrational thinking that I subscribe to is “rational irrationality,” which suggests that people moderate their irrational beliefs as the costs of those beliefs (or the costs of being wrong) increase. It doesn’t apply in every case, but here it suggests that Morton either didn’t really believe he was about to be saved or that he didn’t understand the costs of being wrong. I think both are probably true.
There’s a lot to learn from Morton’s example, and I’ll be writing more about him in my book and possibly here on the blog.
In the meantime, a few parting thoughts:
First, my apologies for not having anything more insightful to say. I wanted to put an update on the record for various reasons, but I’m not ready to draw any serious conclusions from this yet—especially as we don’t know what’s going to happen. Morton will almost certainly get caught, but he’s a nonviolent offender so it’s not like there’s a manhunt on for him. It could take a while.
Second, let’s remember that Morton’s a person. He’s facing a difficult time and in his shoes, I’d be scared. You would be too. No matter what he’s done, we can sympathize with that.
Third, Sean, if you’re reading this, please call a lawyer. If you don’t have one, call any criminal defense lawyer. You need real advice, from an expert. They can help you minimize the fallout from this. They’ll probably advise you to turn yourself in, and that’s OK. You’ll be OK.
Reblogged this on Talmidimblogging.
Only slightly off topic, but it relates to the psyche of these individuals in the patriot movement: We had a family move into a home we owned free and clear, claimed ownership by right of possession and kept fighting eviction for months on end, filing bogus claims with the court worded just like Morton teaches, hiding from service, tearing down posted service and serving us with bogus prior rights notices. It was completely by accident that we discovered our patriots respected only a showing of immediate physical strength or power. My wife ordered a 20 foot dumpster delivered into the yard to empty their possessions into when we ultimately prevailed. They were gone within 3 days of that without a whimper. We learned shortly thereafter they moved into a vacant home about 50 miles away and started the process all over again. I believe based on this encounter that many patriots are simply anarchists who practice might makes right. If you display that you are the stronger party you will prevail. And for some reason their own propaganda makes them unafraid of the courts, possibly because the legal system takes so long to react that they get away with their conduct for a long time. But it does eventually catch up with them, as it did Morton.
We prevailed, and the cost of the dumpster was only $80 for 3 months fill time!
Thanks for the update!
Sean appears to be one of those people who’s allergic to work. He’s taken his philosophy to its inevitable conclusion. If he can’t live by his wits, he may choose not to live any longer. I half expect a suicide or staged fake death.
Colin, the only thing I could add to this is some strong language–and I have enough of a mental health and treatment background to make that statement–suggesting he get some good psychological help as well. I’m a believer in both group and individual therapy, and this seems called for.
Sadly, I don’t think that will happen, but we have to keep trying. Those sorts need serious consequences if they’re going to change.
Yeah, sean will be okay but the people he conned out of their savings will not be okay. They are human beings, too.
Yeah, that’s a good reminder.
Having chosen to run, Sean will not be okay as he might have been. Failure to appear carries further consequences and potentially exposes others – as this case illustrates:
The last piece of pseudolaw that Morton filed in the district court was a “Notice of Removal” to the US Supreme Court “for constitutional blasphemy and void.” In it, he stated, “I do not understand and I do not agree.” Although that might be intended to have some common law effect, it may also be one of the few honest statements he has made. It’s certainly a far cry from touting himself as a constitutional law scholar. N
Melissa comes up for sentencing on July 24th. On June 28 the court modified her bond to order that she have no contact with Sean and consent to a search. Will she join Sean on the run? Will he let her go to prison while he remains a fugitive?
In any event, as a criminal defense attorney I would give Sean free legal advise similar to what you have posted.
High praise in my book. Thank you.
Melissa’s sentencing was postponed to August; I noticed that she’s prohibited from leaving the Central District of California. She’s been talking publicly about moving back to Utah, so I wonder what her plans are. I doubt she means to run, though. She’s probably seen that it’s not working out so well for her husband.
I’ve got more sympathy for the people he ripped off with his psychic investment scams. Sure they were gullible and greedy, but they were stung nevertheless. Special sympathy for Kerry Cassidy who also fell for Sean’s bullshit.
Hey Sean, is not I repeat not a con artist. His theories did work. It the IRS stopped the loopholes and is punishing him for going against the norm. So it is not my fault that you sad souls think he has don’t something wrong when he has not. He followed the rules but got shafted by the system which is broken. Stopped being so bloody niave and do your research properly ie not look at one side but people that he helped. Furthermore he has Helped countless other people SUCCESSFULLY out of debt. But as always the system clamps down on good people like Sean who has never ever charged a fee for his services. So how can he be a con man? Get your facts straight you silly man and furthermore get a life!!!
People I know, lost money to Sean. Sean gave out advice on legal matters -that not only didn’t work for others, but didn’t work for his own case. I obviously know much more about all this than you do – so why am I the ‘silly man’ i this equation?
So he was arrested, charged, and sentenced for doing nothing?
Try to write with fewer double negatives, you’re post is lame. Helped countless people out of debt??? How about this “he helped countless people put their money into his pockets”. The only person Sean sought to help was himself.
Sean initially got duped by a con artist in the mid 90’s. Rather than learn from the scam so he wouldn’t be scammed again, he crawled in bed with scammers and look what it has got him. Creating fake treasury debt instruments is not taking advantage of a loophole, its fraud. He “invested” his girlfriends entire retirement portfolio and left her dead broke. Didn’t work then and still doesn’t work now.
It blows me away as to how many lemming are out there following scam artists. Keep in mind if it sounds too good to be true, it is likely untrue.
Dwayne, rather than to tell others to get their facts straight, why don’t you come up with some facts of your own. Naïve? That would you, his theories DID work? When? Blaming the system eh? Let’s subpoena Mr. System and get to the bottom of this, oh right System is on vacation in Canada with Sean.
Sean worked his ass of on the “Sands of Time” books. They are very well written.
I have watched him speak at expos and spend hours helping people afterwards with
questions about healing and the bond process.
I think he screwed up by doing too much and trusting the wrong people.
It is very easy to jump on the band wagon and crap all over him because he has been
convicted by a legal system that is, to say the least, skewed towards protecting the powerful at the expense of the little people.
All you have to do is look at Hillary Clinton and tell me if you would have been afforded the same treatment by the justice department.
I have dealt with Sean many times and he always behaved honestly and forthrightly. I have never witnessed one fraudulent act on his part.
I’ve heard a lot of people praise the SoT books–I have them on my list of books to read, but haven’t gotten around to them yet.
You wrote, “I have watched him speak at expos and spend hours helping people afterwards with
questions about healing and the bond process.” That’s the problem. I’m skeptical that SDM can help people with healing, and having spoken to him personally I can state that he has no idea how bonds work or how to help people with financial problems. It would be bad enough if he were sharing misinformation for free; by charging people for it, he was scamming them. If you watched him do it, you watched him commit fraud. I realize it doesn’t look like fraud–that’s how con artists work, by convincing people that they’re honest.
Indeed, he is not a financial professional. I noticed that back in the 90’s when he was rounding up seed money for a bogus bank start up by the Tunica Indians in Mississippi and Louisiana. He specifically stated that it was triple A bond rated. Only problem was that it wasn’t a bond issuance or any type of debt instrument and not available to be rated as a bond. Somebody coached him with clips and phrases to go out and sell the product which was bogus. It was his first venture into this type of activity.
Too much hubris did Sean in. I think he knows that now.
There are two very simple problems with your “honest and forthright” description.
(1) Trying to evade your taxes is not honest. You’re trying to get out of paying your fair share, and making others cover for you. Think about what would happen if everyone did this: that’s a pretty decent test of its morality.
Where did the millions of dollars Morton tried to get in unwarranted tax refunds come from? From the money that pays for things like hurricane relief, food stamps, and interstate highways. He was trying to cheat you and I out of those things our tax money is supposed to buy, and make himself richer. This is not honest.
(2) Advising little people to pick a fight with a big organization that can and will hurt them is not forthright unless you also talk about the likely results. (If you did, very few people would try it. Fighting the IRS has an extremely poor track record.)
Sorry your comment took so long to appear! It needed approval for some reason, and I didn’t see the notification.
His books are fiction – and not even well written. The ‘hours’ he spends talking with people after expos are called ‘closing the sale’. Sean is but one of many con-artists in this field.
How did he not predict he would lose the court case?
I think he did predict that he would lose the case, that is why he hauled ass before sentencing. A true visionary! Fight on USC boy!
According to Wikipedia he and his wife were arrested August 21, 2017 and are now in prison.
Anyone who knows anything about this guy knows that through the 90s he appeared every so often on the Art Bell radio show, making all manner of grandiose claims, including claims about his personal history and family background, educational and professional credentials, and also of his psychic abilities. Many of these interviews are available on YouTube; all one needs to do is search “Art Bell and Sean David Morton” without the quotes, and voila! Bottom line, it’s not at all surprising he ended up in prison. It was predictable that it would be this, or otherwise a mental institution, because the man has long evidenced characteristics of sociopathy and delusion.
Because of him I bought silver and it doubled my money, so there’s something good to be said about him.
I’ve seen Sean David Morton at expos and found him to be a very entertaining glib talker, very intelligent and so charming.The reason I can say this is I didn’t get involved in his investment schemes. He gave talks on Remote Viewing, End Times, conspiracy theories, pyramids and other new age type topics. He always drew a big crowd.If he had not crossed the line and gotten people into bogus investments he would have been more than alright. I feel for the people who lost their money to his investment recommendations.