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Robber's appeal rejected

July 15, 2010|By DON AINES

A man convicted in a 2006 bank robbery in Hagerstown had his latest appeal rejected this week by a federal court judge who called the prisoner's arguments "nonsensical."

Gregory A. Rice, formerly of Hagerstown, was convicted Nov. 30, 2006, of conspiracy to commit armed robbery in a bench trial before Washington County Circuit Judge Frederick C. Wright III, according to the opinion written and signed Tuesday by U.S. District Judge Roger W. Titus.

Rice was sentenced to 12 years in prison for his role in the Jan. 6, 2006, robbery of the Hagerstown Trust Co. branch on Virginia Avenue, the opinion said.

During his bench trial, Rice stated that he was a "'secured party' and not a defendant, and that the trial court lacked jurisdiction over him due to his sovereign immunity," Titus wrote.

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Rice represented himself at the trial, according to a published report.

Rice filed an appeal with the Maryland Court of Special Appeals in December 2006, again arguing the circuit court had no jurisdiction to convict him of an offense, Titus wrote. The Court of Special Appeals denied his claim in 2009, the opinion said.

Rice, 39, also sought post-conviction relief several times through the circuit court and was denied, the opinion said.

Rice's federal court petition argued that he was "'kidnapped' by the Washington County Sheriff's Office and forced to make an appearance in the Circuit Court on behalf of the 'corporation' of Gregory A. Rice," the opinion said. Rice further claimed that he was illegally sentenced to "a term of unauthorized slavery," according to the opinion.

Titus wrote that Rice is a "'person' or 'individual,' and his distinction between a 'natural' versus 'artificial' person is nonsensical and of no merit."

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