CUSTER COUNTY— In the past few weeks, KCNI/KBBN has released multiple stories regarding legal proceedings of Custer County Supervisor Doug Stunkel. Stunkel, was elected to represent District 7 after his representatives voted him into office with 354 votes in November 2018.
Since the election, Stunkel has been accused of allegedly operating a motor vehicle with fictitious plates, no proof of insurance, and no registration. He is scheduled to be back in Custer County Court on October 7 after turning himself in on a bench warrant for failure to appear.
Through further investigation, it was also found that Stunkel has not paid taxes on land he owns. According to public documents, Stunkel has failed to pay $171,915.11 on properties dating back to 2017, $164,915.80 of which is currently listed on tax sale.
In simple terms, a property owner that has failed to pay the taxes on a certain property could lose that property to tax sale, if someone else pays the taxes on that property for three consecutive years. If the three consecutive years of taxes has been paid by someone else, it is possible the person who paid the taxes could take ownership of that property through the court system.
Stunkel is also listed in a lawsuit by Custer Federal State Bank for failing to pay the remainder of a $500,000 loan, which he was listed as a commercial guarantee of the loan that was granted to 542 INC. While the other members associated in the lawsuit are being represented by attorneys, Stunkel has elected to represent himself.
Court filings also indicate that a filing was made by Eric Jon Phelps of Newmanstown, Pennsylvania, on behalf of 542 INC. and Doug Stunkel, stating that Custer Federal is to make the presentment of the Private Bill of Exchange to the United States Department of Treasury–who is to pay the remainder of the loan. Stunkel and 542 INC. are scheduled to be back in court on October 3.
According to an article by the Lebanon Daily News in 2016, Phelps is the founder of the Reformation Bible Puritan Baptist Church located in Lebanon County, Penn. This organization is listed as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks hate groups throughout the United States.
Phelps stated in the article that his goal is, “a community that secedes from the United States and Pennsylvania, is devoid of Hispanics, African-Americans and Catholics, institutes the death penalty for ‘doing dope,’ and forbids homosexuality and adultery.” Phelps claims that he is not hateful, but advocates for racial separation and anti-Catholicism.
Phelps is also associated with the Private American Citizen movement which is similar in multiple ways to the Sovereign Citizen movement, which has been flagged by the FBI as a possible domestic terrorist group. These groups have similar ideologies of anti-government and the desire to only follow laws and regulations they deem fit.
According to the FBI, certain laws these groups have been known to refuse to follow include: using fake license plates, using fake driver’s licenses, mortgage fraud, “redemption” schemes, anti-tax beliefs, and many others.