Archive for February, 2018

Venice… California

February 17th, 2018

Venice, California

Over the summer of 2017 I took a long trip around various parts of the Mediterranean, with a stop for a few days in Venice, Italy. While there, I remember thinking “I wonder what that other Venice in LA County is like?” So I knew I’d have to go and find out at some point.

A month or so ago I decided to book a trip to Los Angeles over President’s Day weekend because airfare is cheap this time of year on a total whim. First stop after landing at LAX? Venice… California.

Venice, California Venice, California Venice, California Venice, California

From LAX I took a Lyft ride to an area near the Venice boardwalk. If you’re not familiar this boardwalk it’s your typical tourist trap, but also features some silly Venetian themed buildings, a really nice beach, and a popular skate park. As an aside it’s nothing like the boardwalk in Santa Cruz with rides and such. This is all retail, buskers, and hucksters.

If we’re being honest my favorite part about the area around Venice Beach are all the enormous street art murals. The one featuring Saint Mark as “the patron saint of Venice” got a solid laugh out of me since it’s both technically true (about Venice, Italy) and also not the kind of thing you expect to see in spray paint on the side of a three story building.

While around the boardwalk I kept noticing I was walking through camera shots of people filming what appeared to be b-roll footage. Later, I found myself walking behind two heavily tattoos guys pretending to be hella hardcore while lip-syncing to some agonizingly dull soft rock, the kind of music so bland Matchbox 20 would listen to as a lullaby. So yeah, all signs point to me winding up in the background of some terrible music video. Fame at last! How can I cash in on this?

Venice, California Venice, California Venice, California Venice, California

Next up I had to seek out Venice’s canals, because what’s the point of calling a place Venice if it doesn’t have canals? Well it turns out these canals bare little resemblance to the ones I visited in Italy. For one, it’s a very small residential neighborhood — you won’t find any restaurants, let alone Italian restaurants. Second, the canals are laid out in a rectangular grid rather than haphazardly since they’re all manmade. Third, virtual nothing’s made of brick, even the sidewalks are cement rather than cobblestone. Oh and fourth — there are cars. So aside from a few boats (but no gondolas!) it’s really more of a typical suburban neighborhood with an admittedly neat water feature.

In the gallery above you’ll see some of the more whimsical things I came across in Venice’s canals including a pink flamingo themed home complete with a matching rowboat, a Little Free Library primarily accessible via boat, and a tree filled with mid-century hanging lamps.

As a side note the canals aren’t well marked, but if you follow Google Maps the area isn’t too hard to find on your own.

My recommendations: Skip the Venice boardwalk tourist trap unless you’re interested in skateboarding. The beach might be a less crowded alternative to other SoCal beaches, but then again it’s February so take that with a grain of salt. The canals are a fun half hour or so if you’re interested in a weird part of California’s history.

Salesforce Tower’s hat lights tested

February 13th, 2018

Salesforce Tower hat testing

Today for the first time I noticed the LED grid in the “hat” on Salesforce Tower was being tested. If you’re unaware, the top of the tower isn’t offices, but rather a light-based public art display. Visible throughout much of the city, this will be a big change to the skyline — weather permitting.

Now, it should be noted that San Francisco has a mixed reputation when it comes to permanent light-based art installations. While the Bay Lights have been successfully lighting up the Bay Bridge, the Promenade Ribbon along the Embarcadero didn’t last very long due to water damage. I mean, who could have foreseen water damage as a problem along the edge of the bay?

For that matter, the black rectangle that used to sit on the side of Moscone West was intended to be a light show of sorts, but didn’t work well and was eventually removed.

So let’s hope Salesforce Tower’s light artist Jim Campbell knows a thing or two about fog-proofing his designs or this new installation may flicker out as well.

Killer BOB wanted poster spotted in SOMA

February 9th, 2018

“BOB” wanted poster

While waiting to cross the street outside the LinkedIn building, I noticed a wanted poster taped to a light post and did a double take — it’s a recreation of the Killer BOB wanted poster from the original Twin Peaks. The poster implores you to call Sheriff Truman if you’ve seen BOB.

If you’re unfamiliar with the surreal crime drama, BOB is an evil spirit of sorts who possess people. In his physical manifestation he was played by Frank Silva. Silva does have a connection to San Francisco as he had a degree from SF State. Unfortunately he died back in 1995.

(Spotted at Second and Howard)

New Age “sovereign citizens” found guilty of bank robbery

February 4th, 2018

Mugshots of Heather Ann Tucci-Jarraf and Randall Beane from the Knox County Sheriff website.

Recently a strange “sovereign citizen” court case caught my eye due to one of the defendants involved. If you’re not aware, sovereign citizens are people who believe for various reasons they’re beyond the reach of law, often because they found some kind of legal cheat code that gets them off the hook for anything from a parking ticket to a standoff with the FBI.

In this trial and as in so many other sovereign citizen cases, both defendants were found guilty. But before we get into that, let’s take a trip down memory lane so I can explain why this is relevant to my interests.

Free energy and a flight to Morocco

Four years ago I wrote a post on this blog titled Anatomy of a free energy scam in which I detailed a woman calling herself HopeGirl who kept raising money to build a free energy machine. (Many of the links in that blog posts no longer work but you can still find backups on Shocker: four years later, the QEG free energy machine still doesn’t work.

HopeGirl and friends wound up moving to a community of like minded folks in Aouchtam, Morocco. This community evolved out of an odd hybrid group called One People’s Public Trust (OPPT), which mixed sovereign citizen beliefs with bizarre financial ideas and some New Age woo thrown in for good measure.

Before the relocation to Morocco, OPPT filed a series of documents which they believe “foreclosed” on the US federal government as well as major corporations, banks, and the Federal Reserve. Yet they curiously continued asking for donations in US currency, almost as though they didn’t actually believe what they were saying at all.

One of the main players behind OPPT was a former prosecutor known as Heather Ann Tucci-Jarraf — let’s just call her Heather. At some point Heather had been married to a man from Morocco, which could explain OPPT’s decision to move there.

Aside from functioning as a lawyer of sorts for the group Heather also helped spread a philosophy of BEing and DOing. You can learn more about this at a website run by Heather and her followers, although I’ll warn you right now that it involves watching hours of long, poorly made YouTube videos that no sane person would ever be able to sit through.

Do the terms BE and DO sound familiar in this context? HopeGirl’s website and forum for her QEG magic energy machine was located at (site now dead, link is to an backup copy.) HopeGirl eventually became disenchanted with the New Age weirdos who she joined in Morocco and publicly distanced herself from the group, which she explains here. Unfortunately her realization was short lived, as HopeGirl continues blogging about free energy, “chemtrails,” “orgone,” and other magical thinking that still sounds suspiciously New Age-y.

Between Heather and HopeGirl moving to Morocco together and their shared terminology at the time, I hope you can see how my interest in the QEG scam eventually led me to try and piece together what happened to Heather when she popped up in the news recently.

Numerology bank robbery

Here’s the story behind the case as I understand it based on the court documents as well as newspaper articles. Links to these articles and related online forum threads are at the end of this blog post.

A US Air Force veteran in Knoxville, Tennessee named Randall Beane got himself into some serious financial debts despite making a six figure salary as a software engineer.

Rather than turn to a financial advisor or even trying to refinance on his own, Randall turned to YouTube where he found a video channel run by a man calling himself Harvey Dent, named after Batman villain Two-Face. Is your Spidey sense going off yet… oh sorry, wrong comic.

Harvey Dent’s YouTube channel is difficult to describe. It’s a mix of crazed rants on various topics, most of which are mercifully short. He’s a self-styled guru who claims to lead an “intellectual freedom movement,” whatever that means. He also has a tendency to erupt in laughter at random times which makes the videos a challenge to take seriously.

At some point Randall allegedly came across one of Harvey Dent’s videos, possibly this one, that explains a sovereign citizen concept about how the government is somehow monetizing our birth certificates with secret Federal Reserve accounts that can be accessed through some kind of… numerology? It’s bafflingly incoherent. (Note: Harvey deleted his previous YouTube channel, so it could have been one of his older videos that’s no longer available.)

Randall decided to go with this scheme he learned about from Harvey Dent’s video and somehow wound up enlisting Heather’s help, presumably because she was promoting the video. Taking Heather and Harvey’s advice, Randall withdrew money from his super duper secret bank account at the Federal Reserve and deposited into a certificate of deposit (CD) at his bank, USAA. Due to some fluke this temporarily worked, and he immediately used that money to purchase a luxury motor home for half a million dollars.

Heather and her friends’ website deserves some credit for posting actual court documents from her case — even if they apparently don’t believe the court is legitimate presumably due to the aforementioned foreclosure against the government. Regardless much can be gleaned from the court documents.

For context in understanding some of Heather’s court document filings, the frequently cited Uniform Commercial Code (UCC) is a suggestion for a framework of laws to facilitate commerce between individual states. Most states adopted UCC into their own laws in one form or another, but it’s important to remember that UCC is a recommendation for laws rather than laws in and of themselves. This distinction is something Heather seems to willfully ignore in her (many) irrelevant filings.

Go directly to jail, do not pass go, do not collect a half-million dollar motor home

Randall’s bank transactions quickly raised red flags. Not only was the initial deposit into the CD a banking error, but withdrawing money from a CD prior to the maturity date incurs a significant penalty.

Before Randall could even drive “his” motor home away — presumably with the intent to sell it and pay off his debts — FBI agents arrested him.

Heather intervened on Randall’s behalf by going all the way to the top of the government she allegedly foreclosed upon, showing up unannounced at the White House for an impromptu meeting with Trump.

The Secret Service had none of Heather’s shenanigans, getting in touch with the FBI instead. After an identity hearing Heather was shipped off to be tried along with Randall in a court in Knoxville.

Heather and Randall chose to represent themselves in court. And by represent I mean they did very little, aside from re-filing court decisions with Heather’s fingerprints and the word “REJECTED” written on the documents. It’s not clear they even participated in jury selection. At least Heather had the foresight to bail herself out while leaving Randall in jail, as any good attorney would.

Needless to say both Heather and Randall were found guilty and now face significant sentences. Heather faces conspiracy money laundering. Randall faces bank and wire fraud. Now behind bars, both are scheduled to be sentenced in June.


The sad thing about this case is there aren’t really any winners. Ultimately taxpayers pick up the cost for court cases and incarceration, while the Federal Reserve clearly messed up when they allowed a fraudulent transfer to take place.

Worse yet, I’m not sure Heather’s followers will learn anything when they can spin this as a pair of heroic citizens fighting “the man” and losing in a court they don’t think is legitimate. No matter what happens it’s difficult to imagine Heather’s clan from seeing this as an abuse of power from a government they don’t recognize.

For his part Randall seems like the dopey fall guy. I’m not saying he deserves to get off the hook for what he did, but he’s likely to get the tougher sentence for being the one who executed the robbery in his own name despite not being the mastermind behind the scheme. He seems to me an extreme case of what can happen if you believe everything you see on the internet.

Still it’s reassuring for us Americans to know the FBI and Secret Service can do their jobs even in this turbulent era. The worst outcome would have been Randall and Heather getting away with bank robbery. Thankfully they did not.


These news reports are the sources for most of the information in this blog post:

The following web forum threads helped provide context and information while researching the trial:


The Daily Beast wrote an excellent piece on this saga: Sovereign Citizen Convicted After Giving Advice on Plundering Federal Reserve

Update July 2018
Heather was sentenced to four years and nine months in prison, followed by a supervised release.