States have begun making it a felony to knowingly file a false lien. Virginia’s General Assembly passed such a bill this year, and a similar measure is pending in Maryland. “They have a right to express their beliefs,” said state Sen. Jamie B. Raskin (D-Montgomery), a sponsor of the bill in Maryland. “But they don’t have a right to abuse public processes or harass public officials.”
Rashid Chaudary wasn’t thinking about sovereigns in 1995 when he moved into his new Bethesda home, which was worthy of the most lavish Washington occasions. The cosmetics company millionaire’s guests mingled on two levels. On warm nights, they could walk onto a series of limestone terraces with sweeping views of a hillside of trees.
Several years ago, after Chaudary’s children were old enough to leave home, he and his wife moved to Chicago, where his company, Raani Corp., is based. They put the mansion on the market. “If only a palace will do,” one of the online real-state listings said, “this is your home.”
It was a well-publicized target for Butler, a resident of Charles County who by last year was calling himself Lamont Maurice El, police say. Butler appeared in court last week, where he said that the charges against him are only allegations and that he is not a criminal. He also invoked his status as a Moorish national.
“I only have one free national name. That is Lamont Maurice El,” he said.
District Judge Eugene Wolfe ordered Butler held on $20,000 bond, which Butler posted shortly after the court hearing. He was released last week.
Butler’s effort to claim the mansion goes back to Dec. 17, when, dressed in a fez, white shirt and khaki pants, he presented himself at the front counter of the Montgomery office of Maryland’s Department of Assessments and Taxation, according to court records and Marie Green, the supervisor of the office. He rolled out a historic map, presented documents and requested that tax records be updated to reflect his ownership of the mansion. Green told him that without a proper deed showing a transfer, she couldn’t do anything.
Jan. 3 was a crisp 38 degrees on Natelli Woods Lane, which is lined with million-dollar homes.
Shortly before 4 p.m., a resident drove by the mansion and saw cars out front. She walked up to the front door. Butler came out and launched into a “history lesson” on his rights to the place, according to police reports. The neighbor called Chaudary, the owner, in Chicago. Several police cars pulled up, but by then, the house was empty, according to court records.