By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Eric Nicholson
Now, she's on the other side--of law enforcement at times, and of the federal government's requirement to report one's income and pay taxes. That started in 1992, she says. "My husband was very ill and in a nursing home. We were the kind of people that had to pay every bill on time, and every year I took my taxes to the accountant.
"I had gone through cancer surgery and had all these things on my mind. I was walking around the house praying, and I hear a voice. You might think I'm crazy, but I heard a voice that said, 'You don't have to file that. You don't have to do that anymore.'"
So Irene, too, owner of a small home in Grand Prairie, stopped filing her income tax return.
Prompted by an obvious question, Irene Enloe concedes she didn't stop accepting her monthly Social Security check. She didn't have any problem with her now-deceased husband staying in a U.S. Veterans Administration nursing facility in Waco, either. "How can anyone afford a private nursing home?" she says. But when it comes to thumbing her nose at the tax collector, she says righteously, "I haven't worried about it. That decision was between me and the Lord."
It is an article of faith among Republic of Texas members around Dallas that Irene Enloe became a martyr to their cause when several squad cars stopped her on the way to her neighborhood Albertson's in February, and police officers hauled her off to jail in Dallas.
"When they kidnapped [Jesse's] mother, absolutely it was related to his becoming vice president," says Daniel Lopez, the group's Secretary of State. "I don't know anybody who doesn't see it that way."
Nobody in Republic circles, perhaps. But the Dallas Teachers Credit Union has other ideas about Irene and Jesse Enloe.
As court records show, Irene's arrest was the only consequence they have had to pay--at least to date--in the family's extraordinary effort to beat banks and credit institutions out of a list of debts totaling more than $70,000, much of that from credit cards in Irene's name but used by the rest of the family.
This sizable list of deadbeat debts is headed by the note on a big, showy Buick, a 1992 Park Avenue Ultra. It was "Jesse's car," the Enloes say, but records show that Irene signed for it with a $24,084 loan at the Dallas Teachers Credit Union. When the car was purchased in June 1993, it had 28,000 miles on the odometer, according to the title.
About a year after the purchase, the Enloes stopped paying their loan. Then they sent the credit union a "certified money order" for $27,151 and filed in Tarrant County deed records a notarized "Notice of Default" demanding title to the car. "I now own the above referenced 1992 Buick," the papers read, swearing, "I have revoked and rescinded my signature from any and all applications, notes or contracts with Dallas Teachers Credit Union."
Jesse Enloe says the money orders were payable by an L.A. Pathahiah in Tigerton, Wisconsin. It is a name that law enforcement and banking institutions have come to know well over the last several years. Last month, a federal judge in Wisconsin sentenced Leonard A. Peth, a.k.a. L.A. Pathahiah, to eight years in prison for selling the bogus money orders in a scheme the judge said was clearly intended "to ruin the banking system." Peth and nine other members of Family Farm Preservation, a modern-day offshoot of the militant Posse Comitatus, were indicted in 1996 after they sold packets of blank money orders that 900 people in 27 states tried to redeem for more than $64 million.
In Enloe's view, the money orders are as good as currency, which he maintains is worthless because it is not backed by gold or silver. Because the loans were not made in gold or silver coins, they can be paid back with promissory notes--which are no different than the "worthless" money or credit that was originally extended, he says.
The credit union filed suit against Irene Enloe in January 1995, seeking to collect $21,221 left on the car loan, plus $5,422 owed on a MasterCard issued her a year earlier and $4,838 left on a signature loan she took out in June 1993.
Through early 1995, the credit union's lawyers began bringing their case against Irene with toughly worded requests for admissions, and questions about how the Enloes were connected to Peth and the Posse Comitatus, a virulently racist anti-government group that grew up in the 1970s and early 1980s, fueled by angry rural residents threatened with foreclosure amid the farm crisis.
The Posse's leader, Gordon Kahl, was killed in a furious shootout with federal authorities at his Arkansas hideout in 1983. Earlier that year, two federal marshals were killed in another shoot-out with Kahl, whose group sponsored paramilitary training camps, convened citizens court, and "indicted" dozens of IRS agents and other officials.
In the years since, many of the fringe philosophies formulated by the Posse have been adopted by freemen groups like the Republic of Texas, particularly the adoption of common law courts and a hatred of bankers and lawyers.