ogan Pothast, on right, appeared for his arraignment in Putnam County Common Pleas Court on Thursday, June 9. He claimed he is an American National and not subject to local, state and federal laws. John Grzbowski was appointed as Pothast’s ‘shadow lawyer’ since Pothast chose to represent himself. (Putnam Sentinl/Nancy Kline)
ogan Pothast, on right, appeared for his arraignment in Putnam County Common Pleas Court on Thursday, June 9. He claimed he is an American National and not subject to local, state and federal laws. John Grzbowski was appointed as Pothast’s ‘shadow lawyer’ since Pothast chose to represent himself. (Putnam Sentinl/Nancy Kline)
OTTAWA — A defendant in last Thursday’s Putnam Count Court system said he was there unlawfully, claiming he is mischaracterized as a U.S. Citizen and that the violations he is charged with do not apply to him.

Logan Pothast, Toledo, a former Ottawa resident, said he is an American National and that the court does not have jurisdiction over him. He is charged on two counts of possession of drugs, a felony of the fifth degree. The charge alleges that Pothast was found with drugs on him in the parking lot at Ottawa-Glandorf High School.

This is the second time Pothast has appeared for an arraignment on the charges. He initially appeared on June 2, but this was rescheduled to last Thursday.

This is also the second time residents from Toledo, who also claim to be American Nationals — a sovereign citizen movement that espouses the belief that members are only answerable to their particular interpretation of common law and not subject to any statutes or proceedings at the federal, state, or municipal levels — were in the courtroom with Pothast.

Extreme members of this ‘sovereign citizen’ movement in the United States are sometimes considered by the Federal Bureau of Investigation as ‘domestic terrorists.’ A 2014 survey of law-enforcement officials and agencies across the United States concluded that the movement was the single greatest threat to their communities, ranking above Islamic terrorists and jihadists. Terry Nichols, who helped plan the Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, bombing, is considered by the FBI as a ‘sovereign citizen.”

Pothast, who served as his own legal counsel in Putnam County Common Pleas Court, told Judge Randall Basinger Ohio is a corporation and its laws have no jurisdiction over him. Although Pothast was self-representing, the courts appointed John Grzybowski as his ‘shadow’ lawyer —an alternate lawyer ready to serve if the appointed or legal counsel fails.

When Judge Basinger asked Pothast what he pled, Pothast again refused to cooperate by answering he did not understand.

“In that case I will make the plea on your behalf,” Judge Basinger told Pothast. “I am pleading not guilty on your behalf,”

“Is the court saying I’m not guilty?” Pothast asked.

Judge Basinger did not answer the question only restated his prior statement, “I am pleading not guilty on your behalf.”

Pothast said he planned to sue the county $1,000 silver dollars for each minute he has “unlawfully” had to spend in jail. “This court is going to pay full restitution to me,” Pothast told the judge. “Everyone in this courtroom is completely oblivious to the constitution,” he said looking at the spectators and law officials.

During the proceedings Charmaine Bassett, Toledo, kept speaking to Pothast and giving him advice from the spectator section. Judge Basinger ordered quiet and ordered her not to speak.

“I will be asking the questions,” Basinger said. “If you do not stop talking I will find you in contempt and have you escorted out of the court room. Do you understand?”

Bassett answered no twice when Basinger asked her if she understood. Basinger ordered law officers to escort Bassett out of the court room.

Prior to the arraignment, Bassett — who said this was her ‘appellation’ and not her name — along with Donavan Guerrra, also of Toledo, distributed papers to all the law officers present during the case. The two American Nationals wanted the officials to complete questionnaires regarding each official’s title, duty, and the nature of investigation.

“You are not a part of our government,” Bassett told Ottawa Police Officer Tammy Griffith prior to the arraignment as she handed her a questionnaire. “You are a corporation and functioning illegally in this court house.” Officer Griffith, as with all other officers present, took the paper and gave no response.

“No one has returned the questionnaires to me,” Bassett complained at one point.

Judge Basinger ordered Pothast evaluated at a court diagnostic and treatment center to determine if he is competent to stand trial. His pre-trial is set for June 30.

“This court is committing fraud,” Pothast said as officers prepared to escort him from the court. “Everyone knows I’m not crazy.”

After everyone left the courtroom, Captain Brian Siefker checked under and around the bench where Bassett and Guerra had been seated.

“I’m just checking they didn’t leave anything behind,” he said.