Calgary police arrest sovereign renter
Sep 28, 2013 / 8:13 am
A so-called sovereign citizen who is said to have claimed a Calgary rental property as his "embassy" has been removed from the home after a two-year battle with the senior who owned the place.
Calgary police swooped in in the wee-hours of Friday morning and arrested Andreas Pirelli, who investigators confirm is also named Mario Antonacci, on several outstanding warrants issued by courts in Quebec.
By late Friday, media reports indicated that other people in the house had also cleared out.
Rebekah Caverhill said she rented her beige-brick, bungalow-style duplex to Pirelli in November 2011.
He came at the recommendation of a friend and promised to fix the place up in exchange for a few months' free rent. But she said he soon identified himself as a follower of the Freemen-on-the-Land movement, claimed the property as an embassy, changed the locks and placed a lien on the home.
Caverhill cried tears of joy when she heard of the arrest Friday.
"I'm so grateful," she said in an interview with The Canadian Press from her home in Sylvan Lake, Alta. "I am glad that this is just about over. I am glad that justice is served. I am glad that I was persistent and I am glad, somehow, people will be warned."
Pirelli had been facing an eviction notice, but the process hadn't been expected to occur until Saturday morning. Police didn't wait, making the arrest on the warrants a few hours after two officers visited the home Thursday evening.
It came off without a hitch, said Calgary police Insp. Darrell Hesse.
"It went relatively smoothly," he said. "They were able to make contact with that individual and they took him into custody without incident."
Repeated email requests for comment from Pirelli over the last week have not been returned. He had previously responded to a request for comment about Caverhill's allegations with a warning that he has trademark claims on the name "Andreas Pirelli" and "The First Nations Sovran Embassy of Earth."
Earlier this week, The Canadian Press was faxed a fee schedule for the alleged unauthorized use of copyrighted names, including Andreas Pirelli and Mario Antonacci. The fax says the fee is $1 million for each use of each name.
Hesse said Pirelli, 48, will remain in custody until he is transported back to Quebec. Details of the transfer will be worked out in the next six days.
Larson said he didn't anticipate any further charges being laid in Calgary.
The Law Society of British Columbia and B.C. Notaries have issued warnings about Freemen and, in a bulletin last year, the society estimated the group could number as many as 30,000 in Canada.
RCMP and the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police are developing awareness materials for front-line officers and the movement is the subject of upcoming policing seminars in Vancouver and Toronto.
The FBI considers the movement a domestic terror threat in the United States, but a Freemen-on-the-Land spokesman told The Canadian Press earlier this month it does not advocate violence and it has no place in the movement.
Caverhill said she is looking forward to moving on.
"The next step I think is to go into the house to assess the damage and to get on with my life and to enjoy it," she said. "It's going to be expensive ... but every day that I get up and I am breathing, I say 'thank you God.'
"I'm just happy that no one was hurt."
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