A federal judge Thursday ordered Winston Shrout, who is charged with defrauding U.S. financial institutions by issuing bogus documents, to stop consulting with clients or selling his taped seminars for sale while he awaits trial.
Shrout, of Hillsboro, Thursday entered not guilty pleas to a 19-count federal indictment that accuses him of 13 counts of making, presenting and transmitting fictitious financial instruments and six counts of willfully failing to file income tax returns.
Federal prosecutors contend he’s made and issued more than 300 fake “International Bills of Exchange” on his own behalf and for credit to third parties. The government also contends Shrout falsely claimed the bills had value and purported them to be worth more than $100 trillion.
The indictment also alleges Shrout promoted and marketed the fake financial documents to pay off debts.
Shrout, who has a following as an anti-government sovereign citizen, submitted a typewritten response filed in court that read in part, “There is not any evidence that said ‘fictions’ exist, and Affiant believes that no such evidence does exist.”
Further, he wrote that he has “absolutely no knowledge of the nature and cause” of the indictments, and calculated that he is owed $19 million from the officers of the federal court and prosecutors as a remedy for the false allegations.
The judge Thursday dismissed Shrout’s memo as “nonsense,” and not requiring a response from federal prosecutors.
“I didn’t see anything in there that had legal merit,” Jones said.
Jones cautioned Shrout about the disadvantages of representing himself in court.
If convicted, Shrout faces a maximum sentence of 25 years in prison on each count of making, presenting and transmitting fake financial documents and one year for each count of failure to file income tax returns.
“Let’s put it bluntly. You’re not competent to represent yourself but have the right to,” Jones told him. “If you go off on your bizarre defenses that you’ve already raised, you’ll be cut off.”
But Shrout said he still preferred to represent himself, with assistant federal public defender Ruben Iniguez as his standby counsel.
At the urging of prosecutor Stuart A. Wexler, the judge ordered Shrout to follow additional conditions while on release awaiting trial: He must remove from his website wssic.com all materials for sale that make mention of paying debt or creating credit through the creation of financial instruments; shall not make such materials for sale through his website or any other source; and not present seminars or one-on-one consultations with clients on the subject.
Iniguez said Shrout would follow the court’s order but is considering appealing the judge’s ruling.
A trial is set for June 7.
— Maxine Bernstein