POLSON - A couple of years ago, a Bozeman-area title company got a question about a deed of trust filed in Gallatin County by one Justin Zachary Leuer.
"How do you want us to index this one?" the firm that indexes documents for the title company wanted to know. "The lender appears to be God."
Sure enough, it's right there in the deed: "Witnesseth that the Trustee," it reads, "for a valuable consideration paid by the Trustee to the Creator, Yahweh ... ."
Aside from being puzzled, the title officer didn't think much more about it until she saw a Missoulian story last month about Brent Arthur Wilson.
Wilson, 53, is charged with three felonies and two misdemeanors in an apparent attempt to steal a $300,000 Polson-area house in foreclosure, allegedly by breaking into it, changing the locks, and filing a slew of odd-looking documents with the Lake County Clerk and Recorder's Office.
It was the language described from Wilson's documents - including "third planet from the sun" in the legal description of the property's location, "my commission expires: upon my final breath" under an alleged notary signature, and references to the "Creator, Yahweh" - that rang a bell.
The title officer looked back. Much of Wilson's language was identical to that in the deeds of trust filed by Leuer two years ago on three properties in Gallatin County.
There is one significant difference - Leuer was the actual owner of the properties for which he filed the strange documents, according to Eric Semerad, recording supervisor for Gallatin County.
Authorities say Wilson did not own the home he is charged with stealing, and the investigation continues into other Polson-area homes Wilson allegedly filed similar documents on - including one he was allegedly living in, one he allegedly attempted to use as collateral to obtain a loan, and another he allegedly sold, took back, then collected rent from.
Semerad said Leuer's Gallatin County properties were headed toward foreclosure, and "He may have been trying to keep them from going into foreclosure by filing these documents."
Leuer also filed liens against himself, which Semerad said may have been an attempt to gain first position on the mortgages.
"We've seen a little rash of that lately, people who want to re-convey their own property," Semerad said. "They try to foreclose on themselves in an effort to get their money back."
"I can't explain why people do what they do," he went on. In the case of the deeds of trust Leuer filed, "I wouldn't begin to know how to interpret them."
In addition to the odd language, both Wilson and Leuer appear to have dated their deeds 4,002 to 4,003 years into the future - 6010 in the case of Leuer, who filed his in 2008; on "this 12th hour, third day, first week, of the fourth month, of the year 6012" in at least one case with Wilson, who filed his in 2009.
The Missoulian was unable to locate contact information for Leuer. A recording at a Livingston phone number listed for Julie Ann LaDuke, who signed Leuer's deeds of trust as the "county notary" whose commission "expires upon my final breath," said the number had been disconnected.
Semerad said Leuer's deeds of trust were also signed by a Notary Public, or they would not have been recorded.
The title officer who forwarded Leuer's documents to the Missoulian requested anonymity for herself and her company because, even though Leuer is not a client, she said she didn't know if friends, relatives or associates of Leuer are.
"The reason I sent them was I was wondering if they were getting information from the same place," she said. "Or maybe it's the same guy using different names."
An Internet search for several phrases specific to the deeds filed in Lake and Gallatin counties turns up just one Web site - www.commonwealthofyisrael.org - but attempts to access it Friday were met with a message saying the site was temporarily down.
Both Wilson and Leuer's documents refer to property locations in "Montana, the land," and Wilson's go on to say "commonwealth yisra'el" while Leuer's say "commonwealth Yishra'el."
Semerad said some of the language reminds him of language used in documents filed by the Montana Freemen back in the 1990s. The Freemen believed in individual sovereignty, established their own township, rejected the authority of the federal government and filed liens against public officials. They engaged in an 81-day standoff with the FBI in 1996 outside Jordan.
In Jordan, Garfield County Clerk and Recorder Janet Sherer said she had not seen any documents filed similar to the ones attributed to Wilson and Leuer in Lake and Gallatin counties.
"Not like that," Sherer said, "and we haven't since the Freemen were out here."
The story was the same in Missoula County.
"I'm not aware of any," Deputy Clerk and Recorder Debbe Merseal said. "Typically if we see a deal that looks strange, we'll have the county attorney's office look at it before we record anything that could affect the title to a house."
An Internet search for "Justin Zachary Leuer" turns up a May 2008 Chapter 13 bankruptcy hearing in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Butte.
One for "Brent Arthur Wilson" reveals a couple of messages posted by someone of that name at americacanbefree.com.
There, two-day "freedom seminars" are offered by "a small group of folks from the southeast corner of America" who have "been awakened to some of the most frightening news about our freedom."
The seminars deal with paying mortgages, Internal Revenue Service debt and setting off public debt, among other things. According to the Web site, the fees for the seminars are $405 or $505, depending on how early one registers, and that if one of the dollars isn't paid using a pre-1964 silver dollar, an additional $40 will be tacked on.
"Do you offer your seminars on DVD or audio download?" a May 13, 2008 e-mail from "Brent-Arthur Wilson" asks. "Also, may I obtain the docs from these seminars. I may not be able to attend one of your seminars in the near future but am very interested in using your technologies - please advise."
A May 21, 2008, e-mail from Wilson reads, "What arrangements must I make with you to attend your closest or next closest seminar. If the seminars are full or airlines tapped out (I'm in Oregon/WA), may I buy your booklet. A friend has lent me his audios."
A phone number for Billy Ray Hall, listed as the contact for many of the seminars, was not answered and did not accept messages.
Much of Wilson's alleged scam was unraveled by Realtor Ed McCurdy of Prudential Montana Real Estate's Polson office.
Missing "for sale" signs he'd just placed on a $300,000 log home he'd been enlisted by the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corp., also known as Freddie Mac, to market caught McCurdy's attention. Turned out McCurdy's key no longer fit the front door, and a sign taped in the window suggested the property was now in the possession of someone else.
McCurdy launched his own investigation, detailed Feb. 18 in the Missoulian, and turned up many of the documents Wilson filed in Lake County, where Wilson - who gave a Washington, D.C., Post Office box as his address in his initial appearance in Lake County - listed home addresses in both Park County, Wyo., and Seaside, Ore.
In the Clerk's Office in Clatsop County, Ore., where Seaside is located, an official said a search for Brent Arthur Wilson turned up no odd-looking documents, but did list several IRS liens placed on properties in Wilson's name, one of them still outstanding.
In Park County, Wyo., Clerk Kelly Jensen said she was not aware of documents with similar language being filed there, but does recall notices appearing on courthouse bulletin boards and elsewhere in Cody "that seem vaguely familiar."
McCurdy turned over what he learned last summer to the Lake County Sheriff's Office, which obtained a felony arrest warrant for Wilson. Wilson was later detained after being pulled over for a traffic violation in California.
Wilson is jailed in the Lake County Detention Center on $100,000 bond, on charges that include theft, deceptive practices and tampering with public records or information, all felonies. Prosecutors requested a mental health evaluation for Wilson after his arraignment in District Court, where Wilson - acting as his own attorney - referred to the judge by her first name and announced he neither had, nor wanted, constitutional rights.
An omnibus hearing in the case is scheduled for Thursday in Polson.
Reporter Vince Devlin can be reached at 1-800-366-7186 or email@example.com.