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Unger trial pushed back to June as defense reviews federal documents

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POTSDAM - A federal trial for tax-fraud suspect and former Potsdam orthodontist Glenn Richard Unger has been pushed back until at least June as the defendant and his attorney review reams of court documents submitted as part of the government’s case.

Dr. Unger, who maintained a practice in Potsdam during the 1980s and early 1990s, was indicted two months ago on allegations that he filed for more than $36 million in fraudulent income tax refunds from 2007 to 2011. Dr. Unger was arrested on Dec. 29 in Ogdensburg following a traffic stop not far from a home he was renting on Route 37 in Lisbon. He is believed to be 62, despite conflicting birthdates provided to investigators.

Dr. Unger’s trial had been set for March 4 in front of Senior Judge Thomas J. McAvoy. In a stipulation filed Jan. 31, Judge McAvoy granted a 120-day extension for the trial to begin, noting that the government “has provided the defendant with over 4,000 pages of discovery,” and that the additional time will allow federal public defender George E. Baird Jr. “to review the documents and go over them with his client.”

Government officials began compiling that case about three years ago. Dr. Unger has been identified both by federal officials and the Southern Poverty Law Center as a leader in the antigovernment “sovereign citizens” movement, who formerly hosted an online radio broadcast under the alias Dr. Sam Kennedy.

The FBI has described the movement as a loose network of individuals “who believe that federal, state, and local governments operate illegally,” adopting tactics such as not paying their taxes and creating false license plates and driver’s licenses.

Prosecutors said Dr. Unger came to FBI attention around April 2010 after the bureau began investigating letters sent to all 50 state governors that the FBI perceived as potential threats. A group calling itself Guardians of the Free Republics told the governors to quit their posts within three days or face removal under its “Restore America Plan.”

In a January hearing, Dr. Unger told U.S. Magistrate Judge Randolph F. Treece that he has “never classified myself as a sovereign citizen,” but did acknowledge involvement with the Restore America Plan and the letters to governors.

The magistrate entered a not guilty plea on Dr. Unger’s behalf, as he was then without counsel.

Defense motions in the case must be filed by May 24, Judge McAvoy noted. His order also moves the venue from Binghamton to Albany. While documents do not set out the reason for that change, prosecutors allege Dr. Unger’s fraudulent filings were made in Saratoga and Albany counties. As well, court records from the January hearing indicated Dr. Unger was being held in the Albany area, although federal officials would not confirm details about his detention.

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