By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Eric Nicholson
While Irene sat in jail, Jesse cranked his amateur legal office into full gear.
He tells anyone who asks that Irene's arrest was somehow connected with Attorney General Dan Morales' actions against the Republic. The attorney general has been fighting the group and 25 of its members in civil courts since last June, when he filed a suit alleging illegal restraint of trade, intimidation, retaliation, and falsifying government records. After granting a temporary injunction against the organization, a state district judge in Austin found Republic officials in contempt of court.
The state is seeking a permanent injunction forbidding the group and its members from filing documents that purport to be from an official government agency.
While Enloe is not named among the 25 defendants, he has been served with a copy of the suit. Irene was served during her stay in jail, which turned into a 10-day stretch after she told the judge he had committed "perjury of oath" and had no jurisdiction over her.
Irene completed her contempt sentence and eventually gave up her bank account number in a deposition in which she repeatedly claimed she had a right against self-incrimination.
"That's the filthiest place you ever want to be," Irene says of jail, where she was kept in protective custody. "You are a criminal until you prove otherwise."
While the teachers were trying to recover their money in Dallas, Bank of America sued in Tarrant County, seeking to recover $9,021 the Enloes had run up on a Visa Gold card and attempted to beat with another specious Pathahiah money order.
The Enloes answered that suit, filed in June 1995, with another "judgment" from the homespun Our One Supreme Court. It asked 342nd District Court Judge Bob McGrath to "cease and desist."
Rather than shrug it off, however, the judge asked for police protection at his Arlington home. He says the sheriff's department was giving him dire warnings about possible violence from the Republic of Texas. Those warnings prompted the Bank of America's lawyer, Durward Moore, to drop the suit, McGrath says. "They said they didn't want anyone to get hurt over this."
Moore declined to be interviewed for this story, citing office policy.
That debt and all the rest mentioned in the Enloes' "public notices" have never been paid with what most people consider to be legal currency, Jesse says. Together with the Bank of America Visa Gold card, the debts total more than $38,126. There was $8,996 owed to MNBA MasterCard, $6,000 to First Bank MasterCard, $7,151 to an AARP Banc One Visa, $4,600 to a Discover card, and on and on.
Irene, asked about the debts, says with a sort of sheepish look, "You know some of my friends aren't as informed about this as people in the Republic. They might not understand."
Jesse Enloe differs with Richard McLaren, the group's deposed president, over a number of things, including what kinds of people can be handed phony checks.
"You can't do that to someone who renders you goods or services," Enloe says, adding that McLaren is less discerning. McLaren broke that rule when he used a worthless Republic of Texas check last fall to pay a Fort Worth printer, Enloe says.
Roger Downs, owner of Custom Copying and Printing in River Oaks, a suburb west of Fort Worth, says McLaren left him something that looked like a check for $4,569 to pay for a batch of Republic of Texas "passports" that Downs printed in November.
Jesse Enloe originally placed the order, Downs says, explaining that he printed the little official-looking books with blue and gold-leaf covers and expected McLaren to pay.
When he took McLaren's check to his bank, however, it didn't clear. He took it to another bank. It bounced again. Within a few days, several IRS special agents were at his door, Downs says.
The agents accepted his explanation that he was simply the victim in this, and Downs agreed to let the feds tap his phones while he discussed the check with McLaren and Enloe, he recalls.
Then he got cold feet. "I talked to my wife, and she thought we'd better just forget about it," he says. The agents took the rest of the passports he had in the store and told him to call them if McLaren shows up again.
The check made out to Downs was one of several dozen specified in a 25-count federal indictment unsealed in Dallas on Monday charging Rick McLaren and his wife, Evelyn Ann, and five cohorts with printing and passing worthless Republic of Texas checks. They looked like cashiers' checks and purported to be warrants drawn on the Republic's treasury.
In announcing the indictments, U.S. Attorney Paul Coggins said hundreds of thousands of dollars' worth of the fake "warrants" were passed to credit-card companies, banks, and merchants.
For instance, Kelly's Jewelers in Austin was left holding a worthless check for $3,496, according to the indictment. Enloe says word in Republic circles is that McLaren had ordered 150 Texas Ranger badges from Kelly's.
"I heard I was going to get back-pay as clerk of the Republic court, and I got pretty excited," Enloe recalls. "Then I heard we were gonna get paid with McLaren's warrants, and I got unexcited real quick."