CARIBOU, Maine — A Woodland resident and a member of the Constitutional Coalition, a four-man group of conservative activists in Maine, was convicted of two counts of operating a motor vehicle without a license on Monday.
Jack McCarthy, 63, was found guilty after a less than two-hour jury trial in Aroostook County Superior Court in Caribou before Justice E. Allen Hunter, Assistant District Attorney John Pluto said Tuesday.
According to Pluto, McCarthy let his driver’s license lapse in 2011. He was ticketed for the offense after he was subsequently pulled over by State Trooper Jared Sylvia on U.S. Route 1 in Monticello in 2011 for having a license plate light out, and again in 2012 in Presque Isle for the same offense by Presque Isle Police Officer Ryan Eagles.
Since he requested a jury trial in both cases, the judge selected one jury to hear both.
Pluto said that McCarthy did not hire a lawyer to represent him and did not qualify for a court appointed lawyer because he did not risk any jail time as punishment. Eagles and Sylvia offered testimony in one trial on Monday. McCarthy did not offer testimony.
An email message to McCarthy Tuesday seeking comment was not returned.
The assistant district attorney said that McCarthy simply stopped renewing his license in 2011. He essentially attempted to contest the legality of the current system to require a person to hold and renew a license, saying that he believed that the government is getting too intrusive and doesn’t have the authority to license and regulate such things.
“The judge had to explain to the jury in his instructions that the law essentially doesn’t work that way,” said Pluto. “If he was driving on a public road and if he was driving with a license that was expired, then he was guilty of driving without a license.”
The jury deliberated for 15 minutes before returning a guilty verdict, according to Pluto.
McCarthy was fined $200 on the first charge and $400 on the second charge.
McCarthy can appeal.
Between January and September 2013, Gov. Paul LePage met with members of the Constitutional Coalition, BDN blogger and liberal activist Mike Tipping wrote in his book, “As Maine Went.”
The group has been linked with the Sovereign Citizens, which is described as a terrorist movement by both the federal government and the Maine Department of Public Safety.
Members of the organization claim no affiliation with the Sovereign Citizens but espouse many of the same beliefs — including the notion that the government has been “hijacked” and is thus illegitimate, that most state laws are “repugnant to the Constitution” and thus invalid, and that the U.S. dollar is a “false currency.”
McCarthy is also one of two hosts of the Aroostook Watchmen radio show on WGM.
It was on that radio show last February that the group had discussed charges of treason against House Speaker Mark Eves and Senate President Justin Alfond, both Democrats.
McCarthy said that the punishment for treason had never changed.
“We discussed this there: The penalty for high treason hasn’t changed in 100 years. … The governor looked at us and looked at his buddy and said ‘They’re talking about hanging them,’” McCarthy said.