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Casper man represents self in federal trial, found guilty on gun charges

Berris eventually surrendered after a three-hour standoff where he refused to exit the vehicle.

The standoff closed HIghway 20-26 for three hours on Feb 3, 2024 (Courtesy Brandon Cordova)

CASPER, Wyo. — A Casper man known to represent himself as “a state national” exempt from federal and district jurisdictions has been found guilty of firearms charges after representing himself in a federal trial in Cheyenne.

Frank Ray Berris, 53, was convicted Tuesday by a federal jury for being a felon in possession of firearms and ammunition, according to a U.S. Justice Department release.

The trial before U.S. District Court Judge Kelly H. Rankin took two days.

The case record indicates that Berris was pulled over by a Wyoming Highway Patrol trooper on U.S. Highway 20/26 near Casper on the foggy morning of Feb. 3. The road was closed for three hours in the ensuing stand-off was a three-hour standoff.

The trooper noted that the plates on Berris’s black Ford Explorer — which read “United States of America Republic Diplomat Foreign National” and “UCC1-308” — appeared “fictitious,” according to the criminal complaint.

Berris was unable to provide proof of a valid driver’s license, insurance or registration. While talking with Berris, the trooper noticed a pistol in a holster between Berris and the console and an AR-style rifle between the console and the passenger seat. Berris also had a warrant for his arrest, according to the complaint.

Berris reportedly refused to exit the vehicle and told officers they would have to kill him, the Justice Department release said. Berris eventually surrendered and was arrested after a three-hour standoff. The Natrona County Sheriff’s Office, Mills PD, and Casper PD assisted in the operation.

Law enforcement executed a search warrant on the vehicle and seized a semiautomatic rifle, two semiautomatic pistols and ammunition of various calibers. Berris was a convicted felon, so he was prohibited by federal law from possessing any firearms or ammunition. 

Berris faces up to 15 years in federal prison and up to $250,000 in fines. Sentencing has been set for Sep. 3, 2024. 

Berris was acquitted in a bench trial in Natrona County District Court of aggravated assault and battery last year. In that case, Berris was pulled over by a trooper on the same highway in November 2022 and allegedly flashed a holstered pistol, which the trooper considered a threat.

In court filings on that case, Berris wrote that he was “not in contract with the ‘Foreign Corporation of District of Columbia’” including “District attorneys, District courts, etc.”

Berris represented himself at that bench trial before Judge Catherine Wilking. She found Berris not guilty, saying there were gaps and oversights in the state’s evidence establishing the elements of the charge.

She also weighed in on Berris’s legal theories, writing in her order that they were “without merit” and “not established law in this Court or anywhere in this country’s valid legal system.”

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