SARASOTA - Last April, a veteran Sarasota Police homicide detective went to the courthouse and tried to secede from the United States of America.
The detective, Tom Laughlin, filed a convoluted document declaring himself a "sovereign citizen." The filing included a thumb print on each page and a photocopy of 21 silver pieces — the price to become a "freeman."
In doing so, Laughlin, 42, joined a small but growing group of U.S. citizens who claim they are not subject to federal law, that they no longer have to pay taxes and that their homes are their embassies.
Last week, he was fired for it.
In what department insiders are calling one of the strangest internal affairs cases in recent memory, Laughlin has gone from a decorated and respected investigator to the subject of office jokes.
Laughlin has handled some of the area's highest profile cases in recent y
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