The rental-income home an Alberta retiree hoped would supplement her pension has instead turned into a nightmare after she ran afoul of a member of the so-called Freeman-on-the-Land movement.
Rebekah Caverhill rented one half of a Calgary duplex she owns to a Montreal man two years ago. Self-described handyman Andreas Pirelli was recommended by a friend and Caverhill made a deal that he'd live rent free for three months in return for fixing up the property, according to The Canadian Press.
But when she dropped by the house a few months later, Caverhill found Pirelli had ripped out the kitchen and bathroom, removed all inside doors and painted the floor of the master bedroom black.
But things would get worse.
"He walks me to the door and he's yelling at me, 'I'm a Freemen-on-the-Land,"' Caverhill told CP. "I said: 'This is my house, not yours.' He said: 'No. This is an embassy house now and it's mine and you have no rights', so then he slams the door."
When Caverhill tried to re-enter the house using her key, Pirelli yelled back that he'd changed the locks.
"It's not your home," Caverhill said he told her.
The Freeman-on-the-Land movement, which originated in the United States three or four decades ago, essentially believes that adherents are not covered by any laws they do not accept.
The philosophy has been used by its supporters to do such things as avoid paying taxes and drive without obtaining licences, arguing that individuals are sovereign and not subject to government controls to which they haven't consented.
Nonetheless, they're fond of issuing notarized jargon-filled pseudo-legal documents to try and buttress their positions.
In the U.S., the FBI considers the Freemen a terrorist organization. Here in Canada, the legal community has been trying to get the word out to its members not to indulge their penchant for frivolous legal filings.
After trying to bargain down the rent, Pirelli sent Caverhill an invoice from his company, CPC Universal Group, for $26,000, ostensibly covering work done on her property, CP reported. He also had a lien placed on the property for $17,000.
[ Related: Freemen movement captures Canadian police attention ]
"I'm at wits' end and somebody says to me: 'Oh they're just a bunch of kooks' and I say: 'No, they're not. They're not kooks —they're crazy, yes, they're dangerous, yes,' " Caverhill told CP.
Pirelli has a LinkedIn listing that describes him, among other things, as "Senior Chief Justice at Tacit Supreme In Law Court" and "Diplomatic Minister at For Sovran Nations Embassies as NON-Member and NON Affreted of The United Nations."
Pirelli is also mentioned in a lengthy, strangely worded document posted on the web under a heading of the Tacit Supreme In Law Court that appears to refer to a dispute among Freemen.
Caverhill said she feels helpless. Attempts to get police and local politicians involved have been fruitless. They see it as a landlord-tenant dispute. Caverhill served an eviction notice on Pirelli for non-payment of rent but he's ignored it.
"Based on the information we have received so far, this appears to be a civil matter," Calgary police Staff Sgt. Jim Stinson told CP.
The local city alderman, Druh Farrell, said the issue falls under provincial jurisdiction.
Alberta Justice Minister Jonathan Denis, who once found himself being sued by a Freeman for "$1,000 quadrillion," said he want to help Caverhill.
"We definitely want to be working to help her out the best that we can," he told CP.
As for Pirelli, he's not talking. A CP reporter who tried to contact him by email got this response:
"I don't know who you are? I am telling and ordering to stand down all of the matters that your auhority things (sic) it may have, as this is a private matter. Any intervening with these private matters have outstandings fees and schedules."