Accused sovereign citizen convicted on 18 counts

Leighton Ward (WSMV)

A man accused in a nationwide mortgage scheme has been indicted, along with his mother, his sister and her husband.

The News 4 I-Team has been tracking the trail of paperwork havoc in the wake of Leighton Ward, a man accused of being a sovereign citizen who ensnared people in a scheme to convince them that their mortgages were fraudulent and they should pay him to help get out of their signed agreements.

Brad Qualls was first approached by Ward in 2016, claiming that Qualls and his family were trespassing in their own home in Nolensville.

Qualls said Ward informed him that their mortgage was wrongfully sold to them and had the paperwork to prove it.

Investigators across the country believe Qualls is a sovereign citizen, who doesn’t believe in the government and feels the language used in court records, like mortgages, is incorrect.

Qualls repeatedly stated in YouTube videos and online that he is a member of the U.S. Postal Court that has deemed mortgages fraudulent, including the Qualls’ mortgage.

The U.S. Postal Court is a fictional body and is not recognized by any court system.

The Qualls’ home once belonged to Ward’s mother.

The Qualls had to eventually take a restraining order out on Ward after they claim he kept coming by their house.

Court records show Ward’s mother, 71-year-old Penny Lee Gilly, as well as Ward’s sister, Noel Maltese, and her husband Richard, have all now been indicted in relation to the Qualls’ case.

Leighton Ward faces multiple charges from several states, including criminal simulation in Williamson County.

Ward and his mother are both in the Mohave County Jail in Arizona, where Gilly is charged with being a fugitive of justice.

Noel and Richard Maltese are charged with attempted theft over $250,000 and conspiracy to commit theft.

Their indictment reads that the Malteses hired a realtor after the Qualls moved in and purchased the house and sell their house.

Qualls said after these incidents, he put security cameras around his house and posted a no trespassing sign, and believes sovereign citizens across the country are attempting the same schemes.

“There are other people out there just like him in other states who are doing the exact same thing. They just haven't been caught yet. But they will be caught - because they will run into a family like ours that will stand up to them and fight,” Qualls said.

The I-Team has repeatedly tried to reach Ward, his mother and the Malteses, either directly or through their attorneys, but have received no calls back.

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