The Phoenix New Times reports that Arizona Attorney General Terry Goddard is alleging that Carmen Mercer, president of the Minuteman Civil Defense Corps (MCDC), participated in a scam that involved offering homeowners phony property tax reduction services. The Minuteman Civil Defense Corps is the largest and best-financed border vigilante group in the US.
Mercer is accused of participating in a scheme in which official-looking letters were sent to homeowners offering to reduce their property taxes in exchange for a $189 processing fee. The lawsuit alleges that the solicitations were “completely fraudulent and deceptive” and that the defendants duped consumers into believing they were paying a legitimate business for services that could not be performed. Mercer was identified as the owner of the Post Office box listed on the scam letters. She claims that she was asked to open the Post Office box by a friend and that she did not know its intended purpose.
It’s pretty ironic that someone who is so worried about “illegal” immigrants harming US citizens is currently being accused of scamming unsuspecting American homeowners and breaking the law herself. However, Mercer’s legal woes are miniscule compared to those faced by other Minuteman leaders. Most recently, Shawna Forde, leader of the Minuteman American Defense group, was charged with the brutal murder of a 9-year-old girl. In 2007, former leaders of the Minuteman Project sued founder Jim Gilchrist for allegedly using $300,000 of the group’s money to promote his book and run for Congress. Gilchrist then filed a defamation suit against his colleagues.
Former MCDC President Chris Simcox was also mired in legal controversy. Anti-immigration advocates across the country turned against him when he failed to account for $1.6-$1.8 million in private donations he claimed to have raised for an “Israeli-style” barrier” based on “the fences used in Gaza and the West Bank.” The project turned out to be little more than a two mile-long barbed-wire cattle fence. Simcox’s own ex-wife fought to obtain full custody of their son, describing Simcox as being “prone to sudden, violent rages.” In January 2003, Simcox was arrested while while on patrol with Civil Homeland Defense for illegally carrying a .45-caliber semi-automatic handgun in a national park. Simcox is planning on running against Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) this fall, claiming “I work for the people, period.”
Mercer’s predecessor Al Garza resigned two weeks ago saying that MCDC “is now on a path that I cannot endorse.”