|Denny Hardin wants you to stop taking it from the Man.|
government in a March Pitch feature story ("Don't
Tread On Him").
The indictment alleges that Hardin, 51, falsely claimed to be authorized by the U.S. Department of Treasury to produce and issue "bonded promissory notes," telling his clients that the notes had monetary value when they were actually worthless. He wrote more than 2,000 notes for in excess of $100 million for himself, friends, family, and customers to pay off student loans, mortgages, cars and various other items. The indictment further alleges that Hardin charged his clients a fee for a note of $100, which he'd later increase based on the amount of debt he'd tell the client had been discharged.
Hardin ran the private bank out of his two-story house on the East Side
of Kansas City.
It all started in 1991 when Hardin's prized Corvette Stingray -- paid for with the insurance money from a car accident that left his girlfriend unable to work -- was confiscated by the feds during a drug bust and turned into a D.A.R.E. show car.
After a long period of depression and drug abuse, Hardin started studying the law and acting as an unlicensed attorney. Then a few years back, he learned about a method he claimed allowed him to start his own bank. Talking to Hardin, and the members of his group, the Americans Republic Party, it seemed that his plans were more about getting even with the government than making money.
Hardin was serving the start of a five-year sentence at the Moberly Correction Center for probation violation when I spoke with him via telephone in 2009. Hardin told me he'd written upwards of $160 million in notes. Most of those were for people who found him online, desperate to keep their homes during the real estate collapse. He also told me he never asked for more than the cost of filing paperwork, and printing and mail costs. At least one Kansas City family credited Hardin with stopping foreclosure proceedings and claimed he'd never asked them for money in return.
If you're interested in starting your own bank, Hardin even has a how-to on his Web site.