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New Tampa man who claimed 'sovereign citizen' status takes plea deal in assault case

TAMPA — Arrested twice within 24 hours for threatening people with guns, an antigovernment New Tampa man pleaded guilty on Wednesday to one count of aggravated assault with a firearm.

As part of a deal reached with the Hillsborough State Attorney's Office, Eric C. Holtgard will spend three years in state prison. Prosecutors had charged him with two counts of assault with a firearm arising from separate incidents that occurred in November 2013. He was also charged with improper exhibition of a dangerous weapon and possession of armor-piercing bullets. Both of those charges were dropped.

Holtgard considers himself a "sovereign citizen," Hillsborough County sheriff's deputies said. Such people believe that federal, state and local laws, including taxation, don't apply to them.

Holtgard first encountered deputies on Nov. 20 at a car dealership on Adamo Drive, where he was seen yelling at employees and customers in the lot. He pulled a Glock .45-caliber handgun from his waistband and pointed it at a customer, saying several times that he was going to kill the man, deputies said.

About nine hours later, a lawn maintenance man called 911 and said a man carrying a rifle with a scope — and wearing only boxer shorts — had come out of a house and begun screaming at him, telling him he was not allowed to park on the curb in front of the house.

When deputies arrived, they found Holtgard. They arrested him again.

New Tampa man who claimed 'sovereign citizen' status takes plea deal in assault case 06/11/14 [Last modified: Wednesday, June 11, 2014 9:38pm]

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