THE DANGER OF BEING FRANK

SURE, CONSTITUTIONALIST CRUSADER FRANK ELLENA IS LOUD AND OFFENSIVE. BUT IS THAT A FEDERAL OFFENSE?

While the wheels of justice slowly turned, Ellena languished in a Phoenix jail for five months, even though federal sentencing guidelines call for a sentence of only six months for a conviction on all the charges against him.

To be sure, he contributed to the delays. Tapping his wellspring of conspiracy theories, Ellena alienated Broomfield and consumed hours of court time claiming that the judge was under the authority of those ubiquitous foreign agents, and that the court was actually a "military tribunal" with no jurisdiction over his actions.

Finally, in March, Broomfield released Ellena to Morgan's custody. Ellena retreated to the Houston Mesa law office, where he works daily preparing a defense for his May 25 trial, and where, at night, he sleeps on a cot in the corner.

In a way, he seems exhilarated. He views his trial as a bully pulpit from which to expound upon "the truth." The court documents he has filed in preparation compose his personal manifesto, riddled with references to Interpol, the UN and foreign plots.

His battle is also gaining fame in the Constitutionalist community, and if his case does, in fact, go to trial, he hopes to join the ranks of Randy Weaver and David Koresh--as a patriot who fought the fine fight against government totalitarianism.

"We are going to take this nation back under lawful means by educating the public," he says. "That's what my case is all about: educating.

"We're going to win, and we're going to set a major precedent."
He will also get a satisfying chance to confront his accusers. The IRS agents, as well as reporters like the Republic's Robertson, are expected to get subpoenas.

But the price of his proverbial 15 minutes of fame has been high. He has lost custody of his daughters. Unable to pay storage fees on his furniture and clothes, he has been stripped of most material possessions. He will most likely never work in education again.

Nevertheless, he remains defiant, seemingly oblivious to the ultimate fate of his quixotic quest. While Ellena is probably correct that he will never be convicted of a crime, does he actually believe that his case will succeed in exposing the IRS and peacefully overthrowing the whole of the federal government?

Ellena shrugs. "If Christian men 200 years ago had decided it was impractical or impossible, that you couldn't buck the system," he says, "where would we be today? Still under the king of England, that's where.

"I'm fighting for my daughters. I don't want them to live in a nation where they are told how to live, what to do, what to think."
Proudly, Ellena says his fears of the big-government bogeyman have been unquestionably justified. Whether the IRS struck out at him in retaliation or simply out of an institutional need to quash all dissent, the result is the same--destruction of the individual at the hands of the state.

That, he says, should worry us all.
"People need to wake up to the threat," he says, "even if others think you're strange or paranoid for worrying about it."
And always remember, Ellena points out: You aren't paranoid if someone really is out to get you.

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