Florida Pastor Charged in U.S. Capitol Siege After One of His Own Followers Ratted Him Out

Florida pastor James Varnell Cusick Jr. and his son Casey Cusick are facing charges in connection with the Jan. 6th attack on the U.S. Capitol Complex — all because a member of Cusick’s church told federal agents he was inside the Capitol with his pastor.

When the authorities interviewed David John Lesperance at his home in Florida after identifying him as one of the people present at the capitol, Lesperance admitted that he was in Washington, D.C. from Jan. 5 to Jan. 8 and that he and his pastor were “present at President Trump’s speech and then at the U.S. Capitol afterwards,” according to an FBI affidavit.

Lesperance also admitted that “they” had entered the Capitol, but he initially refused give an exact name as to who “they” were.  He simply indicated that the term included his pastor.

Investigators were able to make the connection to the Cusicks in a few ways.

The FBI first connected Lesperance to James Cusick Jr. through social media. Cusick Jr. is the founder and pastor of a church in Melbourne, Fla., some seven miles from where Lesperance lives, and officials found a picture on the church’s Instagram page that included both James Cusick and Lesperance.

David John Lesperance (center) and James Varnell Cusick Jr. (right).

The FBI, with information obtained from search warrants of the mens’ cell phone history, also determined that the Cusicks and Lesperance were inside the Capitol building at the same time.

During his interview with the FBI, Lesperance admitted that he deleted pictures and videos he had taken while inside the Capitol “out of fear of negative repercussions,” but escape from those repercussions turned out to be difficult:  federal officials searched Lesperance’s iCloud account.  It included pictures of Casey Cusick before and after the siege; he was wearing the same clothes he was seen wearing on the Capitol’s closed-circuit TV system and on police bodycam footage.

Casey Cusick (Left) and James Varnell Cusick, Jr. (Right) are seen in two versions of the same image embedded in various court documents on file in the two men’s cases.

Additional photos found in Lesperance’s iCloud account also placed the Cusicks inside the Capitol building.

An anonymous tipster also sent a letter to the FBI with pictures and other evidence to show that Lesperance and the Cusicks had traveled from Florida to Washington and participated in the Capitol breach, according to the affidavits.

James Cusick, Jr. is the founder of Global Outreach Ministries, the Washington Post reported. His son, Casey, is listed on the church website as “event coordinator,” but according to the report, he is currently the church’s vice president. Lesperance is the owner of an air conditioner company in Florida, the Post said.

All three men are charged with unlawfully entering or remaining in a restricted building, disorderly or disruptive conduct in a restricted building, and violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds.

FBI documents show that all three men were arrested Thursday, and all three made their initial court appearances that day. Lesperance was “released on conditions,” but it was not clear whether either of the Cusicks were released as well.

Read the arrest warrant affidavits for David Lesperance, James Cusick Jr., and Casey Cusick, below.

[images via federal court documents]

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June 25, 2021 at 07:41PM

‘Zip Tie Guy’ and His Mother Plead Not Guilty to New Charges in U.S. Capitol Siege

The alleged “zip tie guy” photographed carrying plastic restraints while wearing military-style garb during the breach of the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 has pleaded not guilty to a first superseding indictment alleging he and his mother committed additional crimes.

Eric Gavelek Munchel entered the plea Wednesday morning. His mother, Lisa Marie Eisenhart, who is charged along with him, also pleaded not guilty. Attorneys for both defendants said they wished to preserve for the record all of their clients’ constitutional rights.

The superseding indictment filed June 2 alleges eight counts:  that Munchel and Eisenhart (1) conspired to obstruct congress; (2) obstructed an official proceeding (by aiding and abetting); (3) entered or remained in a restricted building or grounds with deadly or dangerous weapons (by aiding and abetting) while the Vice-President and the Vice-President Elect were physically present; (4) disorderly and disruptive conduct in a restricting building with a dangerous weapons (by aiding and abetting) while Mike Pence and Kamala Harris were present; (5) unlawful possession of a dangerous weapon on capitol grounds or building (by aiding and abetting) for carrying a taser in the capitol; (6) entering and remaining in the gallery of congress; (7) disorderly conduct in a capitol building (for “uttering loud, threatening, and abusive language,” among other things); and (8) parading, demonstrating, or picketing in a capitol building.

The original charging documents on file in the cases alleged only four crimes.

As has become the usual procedure during cases connected to the Capitol siege, prosecutors said some discovery had been turned over to the defense, but more was coming.

“There were a large number of tips that were submitted with respect to Mr. Munchel” to the FBI by internet sleuths, a federal prosecutor said. The tipsters figured out the defendants’ identities based on information available online, that prosecutor said, and sent the information to the FBI.

The process of turning over “that discovery is in progress,” the prosecutor said.

Lisa Marie Eisenhart and Eric Gavelek Munchel

Lisa Marie Eisenhart and Eric Gavelek Munchel are seen in surveillance camera footage from a hotel. (Image via the FBI/federal court records.)

Then prosecutors discussed the “larger discovery issue” of the “incredibly vast” amount of evidence in the capitol breach cases generally. Some of that cache “may contain material” that is “relevant” to the Munchels and which the defense deserves to have, prosecutors said — but they added that it would take time to sift through it.

The prosecutor then said the “extraordinary magnitude of evidence that has been collected in these cases” has prevented her from being “able to issue a plea offer as of yet.” The prosecutor proposed putting the cases on hold until late September. Senior U.S. District Judge Royce C. Lamberth agreed to a date of Sept. 20 for a status conference, which is one of the dates prosecutors suggested.

The defense attorneys agreed to waive Munchel’s and Eisenhart’s rights to a speedy trial; the judge agreed that the waiver was in the “interest of justice.”

Lisa Marie Eisenhart is seen in an image embedded in federal court documents.

“I hope we’re getting closer to see[ing] where it’s going to go,” Lambert said of the methodical but necessarily slow pace of the case.

Some capitol siege defendants have entered guilty pleas; the first is due to be sentenced later Wednesday.  Neither the prosecution nor the defense has suggested jail time in that case, but the facts are distinctly more advantageous to the defense than the facts in the Munchel and Eisenhart prosecutions.

Read the superseding indictment below:

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June 23, 2021 at 11:35AM

FBI Director Targets ‘Hundreds’ in Capitol Riot Investigation

FBI Director Christopher A. Wray told the House Oversight Committee on Tuesday that the agency is pursuing potentially hundreds more suspects in the Capitol riot, calling the effort to find those responsible for the deadly assault “one of the most far-reaching and extensive” investigations in the bureau’s history, reports the New York Times.  His assurances of how seriously the agency was taking the attack by a pro-Trump mob came as lawmakers pressed him and military commanders on why they did not do more to prevent the siege despite threats from extremists to commit violence.

Documents obtained by the committee showed that, beginning at 1:30 p.m. on Jan. 6, top officials at the Defense Department received pleas for help from the Capitol Police chief, Mayor Muriel Bowser of Washington, and other officials. But the National Guard did not arrive until 5:20 p.m., more than four hours after the Capitol perimeter had been breached. Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney, a New York Democrat who chairs the Oversight Committee, confronted  Wray with messages from the social media site Parler, which she said referred to threats of violence to the FBI more than 50 times before the attack. One message, which Maloney said Parler had sent to an FBI liaison on Jan. 2, was from a poster who warned, “Don’t be surprised if we take the Capitol building,” and “Trump needs us to cause chaos to enact the Insurrection Act.” Wray countered that he was unaware of the email exchange.

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June 16, 2021 at 10:05AM

Tucker Carlson Ignored Laws and Common Practices While Suggesting Undercover FBI Agents, Not Pro-Trump Criminals, Are to Blame for Jan. 6

The Fox News opinion host whose legal defense has been that viewers shouldn’t believe what he says is literally true has now tried to suggest that “unindicted co-conspirators” cited in connection with the Jan. 6th siege on the U.S. Capitol Complex may have been undercover government actors. Tucker Carlson insinuated that the government was to blame for what happened at the Capitol by citing to a website which failed to cite or analyze the law or common legal practices while claiming a government conspiracy surrounded what occurred on Jan. 6th.

The Broadcast

In a Tuesday evening monologue, Carlson ranted about “Person 2” — a man alleged to have “stormed the barricades” around the Capitol and stayed in a hotel room with indicted Oath Keepers member Thomas Caldwell — and “Person 3,” another unidentified and uncharged co-conspirator.

“In potentially every single case, they were FBI operatives,” Carlson suggested. “Really? In the Capitol on Jan. 6th!”

“They were almost certainly working for the FBI,” Carlson also said of these “persons.”

He then called the unnamed individuals the “organizers” of what took place.

“So, FBI operatives were organizing the attack on the capitol on January 6th, according to government documents,” he exclaimed. “So, it turns out this white supremacist insurrection was — again, by the government’s own admission in these documents — organized at least in part by government agents!”

Embattled congressman Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) and controversial congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) quickly amplified Carlson’s speculation on Twitter, using it to call for an investigation.

Much of the Carlson monologue was sourced to Revolver News, a website Forbes has described as a “right-wing” aggregator of content. Last summer, the site advocated the shooting of racial justice protesters. It has been heavily promoted by Donald Trump and members of his administration.

The underlying Revolver story claimed that a “curious lack of indictments” against unindicted co-conspirators referenced in various capitol siege cases — including individuals known as “Person 2, Person 3, Person 10, Person 14, Person 15, Person 16, Person 19 and Person 20, along with many co-conspirators” — raised troubling “red flags.” The Revolver story also suggested, as did Carlson, that the unnamed and unindicted individuals were undercover government agents.

The Revolver article used the word “entrapment” a sum total of four times to describe the alleged actions of these alleged government agents. That’s a legally operative word we’ll discuss further in a moment.

A Revolver representative, Darren Beattie, appeared on Carlson’s broadcast to agree that the “remarkable” report “certainly suggests” the “possibility” that the FBI “organized the riots.” Beattie claimed that the piece is “the most important and the darkest investigative piece” many people have seen “in years.” Beattie said people deserved to know the truth about what occurred on Jan. 6th for the sake of Ashli Babbitt and others. Babbitt was shot and killed by a law enforcement officer as she attempted to enter the Speaker’s Lobby during the siege.

Beattie claimed the “key that unlocks the truth to 1/6” is the question of whether the key militia groups were infiltrated and led by the FBI and other government agencies — in other words, spurred to do what they did by the government and then branded as domestic terrorists.

As an aside, the New York Times reported last November that Beattie was fired from the Trump White House as a speechwriter in 2018 for attending “a gathering with white nationalists.” He later was placed on a commission which aims to preserve sites related to the Holocaust — a move which was opposed by the Anti-Defamation League.

Both Carlson and Beattie admitted that additional information was necessary to fully answer the question. Gaetz agreed by midday on Wednesday and demanded to know whether FBI agents were “active instigators.”

Let’s discuss these claims.

Conspiracy?

The Carlson/Beattie claim that government agents are unindicted co-conspirators makes very little logical sense as a matter of law. It is well-settled lawat least in the Eleventh Circuit — that “government agents and informers cannot be conspirators.” And other legal experts agree. So, when Beattie and Carlson suggest that FBI agents might be unindicted co-conspirators involved in the Capitol breach, they are suggesting something that is literally not even a thing. It’s like a liquid solid, or a working flux capacitor, or an underground sky, or a Declaration of Independence from 1775 — a figment of the imagination.

However, “a defendant may be convicted of conspiring with persons whose names are unknown or who have not been tried and acquitted, if the indictment asserts that such other persons exist, and the evidence supports their existence and the existence of a conspiracy.” So, it is possible for a Jan. 6th defendant to be charged for conspiring with someone who the government cannot identify.

Standard Practice — Who Is Who?

It is not common for federal court documents to refer to undercover agents or criminal informants merely as “persons.” Under common DOJ parlance, Informants are referred to asConfidential Human Sources” (“CHS”), and agents are referred to as “Undercover Employees” (“UCE“), as the Revolver story itself points out.

Additionally, the Justice Department’s manual for U.S. Attorneys says “prosecutors generally should not identify unindicted co-conspirators in conspiracy indictments.” The manual, citing case law, suggests only “generic reference” to such individuals.

The 1975 case upon which the Justice Manual’s prohibition is based warns of “harm to the citizen who is accused but not indicted.” It suggests “private injury” may “stigmatiz[e] private citizens as criminals while not naming them as defendants or affording [them] access to any forum for vindication.”

“[W]e know of no reason why, if the indictment wishes to center upon a specific person but not name him as defendant, he cannot be described as ‘John Doe,’” the court said. “An unindicted conspirator anonymously designated as an ‘other person’ or as ‘John Doe’ may be unmasked in a bill of particulars or at trial.”

The procedure followed generally by the Capitol siege cases follows these patterns and practices.

The Identities

The identity of at least one of the “persons” referenced in Capitol siege cases is known. For instance, “Person One” is Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes, the Washington Post has reported.

“The Oath Keepers are led by Person One,” federal court documents also explain.

According to those documents:

On January 4, 2021, Person One posted an article to the Oath Keepers website encouraging Oath Keeper members and affiliates to go to Washington, D.C., for the events of January 5-6, 2021, stating: “It is CRITICAL that all patriots who can be in DC get to DC to stand tall in support of President Trump’s fight to defeat the enemies foreign and domestic who are attempting a coup, through the massive vote fraud and related attacks on our Republic. We Oath Keepers are both honor-bound and eager to be there in strength to do our part.”

Rhodes has military experience and is a graduate of Yale Law School, the Southern Poverty Law Center says. BuzzFeed reported that he stayed outside the Capitol on Jan. 6th. The Montana Supreme Court disbarred Rhodes in 2015. He has not been charged with a crime in connection with the Capitol siege.

Indeed, links between the various Jan. 6th defendants, the military, and the government have been long acknowledged. Thomas Caldwell, a named member of the alleged Oath Keepers conspiracy, is a retired lieutenant in the military who later worked for the FBI, court documents have revealed. The entire mission of the Oath Keepers, after all, is to recruit former police, military, and first responders into the organization’s ranks. Finding individuals with FBI connections within the group’s roster should not be a surprise.

But even if active, loyal FBI agents infiltrated the group, the person at the top, who is not by any account an FBI employee, was alleged to have been calling the shots.

And federal prosecutors remain in the process of filing charges and bringing superseding indictments. There has been a clear pattern of targeting, then eventually identifying and naming individuals for prosecution in the Jan. 6th Capitol breach cases

It’s Likely Not Entrapment

While we await the identities of the various “persons” referenced by Carlson and the Revolver, it’s important to acknowledge that the underlying law of entrapment does not suggest the type of legal bombshell contemplated by Beattie or Carlson.

And that’s important. Even if Beattie and Carlson are completely correct — and that’s unlikely — it likely won’t matter much legally.

The Revolver story started to insinuate an entrapment defense for those charged:

If it turns out that an extraordinary percentage of the members of these groups involved in planning and executing the Capitol Siege were federal informants or undercover operatives, the implications would be nothing short of staggering. This would be far worse than the already bad situation of the government knowing about the possibility of violence and doing nothing. Instead, this would imply that elements of the federal government were active instigators in the most egregious and spectacular aspects of 1/6, amounting to a monumental entrapment scheme used as a pretext to imprison otherwise harmless protestors at the Capitol — and in a much larger sense used to frame the entire MAGA movement as potential domestic terrorists.

[ . . . ]

Indeed, if the federal government knew of a potential for violence in or around the Capitol on 1/6 and failed to call for heightened security, the agencies responsible may in fact be legally liable for the damages incurred during that day.

The Revolver story went on to attempt to compare the acknowledged use of undercover agents in cases involving a plot to kidnap Democratic Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and the cases involving the Jan. 6th siege at the U.S. Capitol Complex.

“The possibility of an FBI entrapment-type operation is especially disturbing in light of the striking parallels between the Michigan Plot and the so-called Capitol Siege of 1/6,” the Revolver story said.

The problem is that the story logically leaps to — or suggests — the legal conclusion that the use of undercover informants is a bad thing. The Revolver cites no laws, so the piece asks its readers to agree that “a potentially extraordinary scandal” is afoot without any authoritative argument as to whether the alleged underlying conduct — even if it is true — is illegal.

Generally speaking, entrapment defenses focus on what the U.S. Supreme Court and other courts have called “predisposition” — that is, whether the defendant was “ready and willing without persuasion” to commit a crime and was “awaiting any propitious opportunity to commit the offense.” Though there is some disagreement in the case law about the precise parameters of law of entrapment, the legal test employed generally measures a defendant’s propensities and inclinations regardless of an undercover agent’s involvement. If a defendant is already on track to commit a crime and an undercover agent merely greases the rails and helps make the crime happen, entrapment does not occur, and the defendant is usually caught red-handed by a government agent witness who is more than willing to testify about the particulars. The legal theory at play here is that the defendant would have simply engaged the assistance of someone other than the undercover government agent and committed the crime anyway.

A successful entrapment defense generally shows the defendant’s “unreadiness” to commit the crime. An “unready” defendant is one who is badgered or pushed by the government into committing an illegal act after refusing or expressing clear doubts and misgivings about so doing.

As one U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit Court case explains:

Inducement by law enforcement officials may take many forms including persuasion, fraudulent representations, threats, coercive tactics, harassment, promises of reward, or pleas based on need, sympathy or friendship. A solicitation, request or approach by law enforcement officials to engage in criminal activity, standing alone, is not an inducement.

Based on what we know right now about the Capitol siege cases, few if any unready or reluctant defendants have been identified. Most seemed ebullient about the thought of disrupting the proceedings to install Joe Biden as president.

Then there’s another related legal doctrine called “entrapment by estoppel.” That’s when an individual asks a government official whether or not a certain activity is legal, is given bad advice, and henceforth relies on that advice to commit an illegal act — all while thinking the act was legal based on the government agent’s advice.

An unpublished but often cited 2008 case from the Eastern District of Pennsylvania explains the law:

A defendant who raises this defense must prove by a preponderance of the evidence that: “(1) a government official (2) told the defendant that certain criminal conduct was legal, (3) the defendant actually relied on the government official’s statements, (4) and the defendant’s reliance was in good faith and reasonable in light of the identity of the government official, the point of law represented, and the substance of the official’s statement.” United States v. Stewart, 185 F.3d 112, 124 (3d Cir. 1999) (quoting United States v. West Indies Transp., Inc., 127 F.3d 299, 313 (3d Cir. 1997)).

It’s unlikely that an undercover agent who infiltrated a militia group would have admitted his or her status as an active government agent for the purposes of giving advice to others in the group on the legalities of their actions. Therefore, it’s unlikely this particular type of entrapment defense would apply to the known Capitol siege cases.

In an email to Law&Crime, the FBI said it “received the congressional letter” from Rep. Gaetz but had “no additional comment.”

A spokesperson for the U.S. Department of Justice did not return a phone call seeking reaction or comment.

[Editor’s note:  this piece has been updated to include citations to the Justice Manual and to add reaction from the FBI.]

[image via Fox News Channel]

The post Tucker Carlson Ignored Laws and Common Practices While Suggesting Undercover FBI Agents, Not Pro-Trump Criminals, Are to Blame for Jan. 6 first appeared on Law & Crime.

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June 16, 2021 at 04:04PM

Self-Declared ‘F***ing Stormtroopers’ from Georgia Who Said They ‘Did the Right Thing’ on Jan. 6 Now Face Federal Charges: DOJ

Federal prosecutors recently charged two additional defendants over their alleged roles in the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol Complex.

Savannah McDonald, 20, and Nolan Kidd, 21, stand accused of four separate offenses with a combined potential punishment of three years in prison if convicted for the full suite of crimes.

Accused of trespassing on government property, disorderly conduct and protesting unlawfully, the two Georgia residents look likely to claim one notable, mitigating factor for their defense.

During interviews with FBI agents in mid January, the pair said they were allowed into the national legislative seat of government by police officers whom they suggested were friendly to the pro-Trump mob.

“McDonald stated that she and Kidd marched to the U.S. Capitol, and when they reached the U.S. Capitol, there were uniformed police officers near the doors telling them to come inside and showing them where to go,” court documents released Tuesday note. “On January 15, 2021, FBI agents separately interviewed Kidd in Athens, Georgia. Kidd agreed to speak to the agents. Kidd told the agents that the doors to the U.S. Capitol were wide open.”

Those alleged excuses track with claims raised by several defendants in the hundreds of cases brought so far against alleged MAGA invaders.

Several initial videos of the infamous day suggest that at least some police officers resigned themselves to the situation or even permitted the mob to advance, while a later narrative asserts that many of the officers were overwhelmed and did not want to risk their own safety given the size of the threat and the relative lack of immediate backup.

Alleged security failures and deficiencies related to law enforcement’s response have been a keen point of debate and discussion in the months following the shocking display in Washington, D.C. The Capitol Police later admitted that they had intelligence warning them of substantial threats but didn’t do enough to act on that information.

McDonald and Kidd hewing to the line may or may not explain why the government took so long to charge them.

According to the FBI, investigators received tips about the duo’s alleged actions at the Capitol five days after the fact but McDonald and Kidd were only arrested last Friday.

“Just made it home, I have tons of photos and videos to share with you guys,” a Facebook post attributed to Kidd cited in court documents released Tuesday says.

Appended to that post were several images of the inside of the Capitol and an alleged image of Kidd “wearing a red hat and a black jacket with a red and yellow line.”

Savanah McDonald and Nolan Kidd in the U.S. Capitol

The duo also allegedly appeared in the background of a picture of perhaps the most infamous rioter of them all: Jacob Chansley.

The charging documents make much of the clothes allegedly worn by the defendants in an effort to identify them:

During national news coverage of the aforementioned events, video footage which appeared to be captured on mobile devices of persons present on the scene depicted evidence of violations of local and federal law, including scores of individuals inside the U.S. Capitol building without authority to be there. Photographs and videos of several of these persons were disseminated via social media and other open source online platforms. These persons included: (1) a female, wearing a “TRUMP 2020” beanie hat, black jacket, black gloves, and black leggings, believed to be Savannah McDonald; and (2) a male, wearing a MAGA hat, a red sweatshirt, and a black jacket with a yellow and red stripe, believed to be Nolan Kidd.

Those clothes-based identifiers, however, likely won’t prove instrumental here because McDonald allegedly confirmed that she is the person in one of the photographs–bringing the claim that she and her traveling companion were allowed inside back to the foreground.

Savanah McDonald protesting

A YouTube video titled “Storming the Capitol” was posted by the Young Patriot Society in late January during which Kidd and McDonald appear to discuss their exploits.

“During the interview, McDonald confirmed they were part of the first 100 people to enter the Capitol,” the court papers note. “Kidd states, ‘We got in from the back.’ At 7:28, the video cut to video footage taken from inside of the Capitol. A man is behind the camera yelling, ‘We broke in. We own this building. This is our house.’”

McDonald later disputes that characterization:

At 8:49, the video footage depicted MCDONALD taking a video of herself stating, “I’ve been tear-gassed three times today. Three times.” A man behind the camera responds, “Me too. But we broke—we broke through.” At 9:42, MCDONALD can be heard stating, “We did not break in.”

The FBI, on the other hand, sought to quickly contradict the notion that McDonald and Kidd merely walked through open doors.

“[R]ioters can be observed pushing the law enforcement perimeter on the northwest stairs,” an unnamed special agent who works on terrorism-related cases claims in the document. “Approximately four minutes after the breach of the perimeter, highlighted in [a] red box [in the filing], McDonald and Kidd moved up the stairs.”

“McDonald and Kidd entered the U.S. Capitol through a Senate Fire Door approximately 14 seconds after it was breached from the inside by unauthorized individuals,” the government further alleges.

Savanah McDonald and Nolan Kidd allegedly running into the U.S. Capitol

The government also puts forth the idea that Kidd, at least, was fearful of being charged–likely to be raised as an indicator of a guilty mind by the prosecution.

“[O]n January 7, 2021, in a private message, an individual asked Kidd, ‘Why did you remove your pics,’ to which Kidd responded, ‘The FBI are trying to identify anyone that inside and press charges.’”

McDonald and Kidd both allegedly engaged in some unrepentant boasting about their role in the right-wing riot, going so far as to dub themselves “FUCKING STORMTROOPERS” who “did the right thing.”

Again, the charging document, at length:

[O]n January 6, 2021, at 10:54 pm, an individual with [the Snapchat] username “nolie1174,” believed to be KIDD, posted a video in a group chat with MCDONALD. In the video KIDD and MCDONALD are inside the U.S. Capitol, and MCDONALD states “I’m the only girl that made it into the Senate.”

On January 6, 2021, “nolie1174” and MCDONALD participated in a group chat titled “Rally Squad.” At 8:37 pm, “nolie1174” told the group, “We weren’t just there we went farther than almost anyone into the building . . . [m]aybe about top 15 people.” After another participant responded “Hellll yeaaaaa,” “nolie1174” stated, “Me and Savannah are FUCKING STORMTROOPERS.” On January 7, 2021 at 1:08 pm, MCDONALD told the group “My chest hurts . . . [b]ut we did the right thing.”

Read the full court filing below:

[images via U.S. Department of Justice]

The post Self-Declared ‘F***ing Stormtroopers’ from Georgia Who Said They ‘Did the Right Thing’ on Jan. 6 Now Face Federal Charges: DOJ first appeared on Law & Crime.

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June 16, 2021 at 01:19PM

Former Police Chief and Militia Members Indicted in Capitol Riot

Alan Hostetter, former chief of the La Habra, Ca., police department, along with his partner who helped organize Stop the Steal rallies and members of the Three Percenters militia, have been indicted for their roles in the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection, reports the Los Angeles Times. Hostetter and fellow Californians Russell Taylor, Erik Scott Warner, Felipe Antonio “Tony” Martinez, Derek Kinnison and Ronald Mele, face charges on multiple counts.

The grand jury indictment alleges the men conspired on social media prior to the riot — including on a Telegram channel dubbed “California Patriots – Answer the Call Jan. 6” and via text messages — creating travel plans that included discussion of bringing weapons to the Capitol. On the day of the riot, they breached off-limits areas of the Capitol and encouraged others to do so as well, posting videos and pictures as they went, the indictment says. Though all are charged with being in restricted areas of the Capitol, Warner, a registered nurse, is the sole indictee to be accused of entering the building, via a broken window. Kinnison and Warner are charged with destroying evidence, while Taylor also faces a weapons count for carrying a knife with a blade longer than three inches.

via The Crime Report https://ift.tt/2myW3Gx

June 11, 2021 at 11:10AM

Law Firm Dumps Mike Lindell as Client, Severs Ties with Attorney Less Than One Day After Lawsuit Against Dominion, Smartmatic

Alec J. Beck, the Minneapolis attorney who on Thursday signed election conspiracy theorist and MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell’s lawsuit against Dominion, Smartmatic, and affiliated voting technology companies, on Friday suddenly and summarily parted ways with his now-former law firm. But his co-counsel in the Lindell case tells Law&Crime that Beck will remain on as an integral part of the Lindell litigation team.

Beck until Friday worked as a partner for the law firm Barnes & Thornburg LLP, which employs more than 600 attorneys in 20 offices around the country.

“Late last night, firm management became aware of the filing of the complaint which was done without receiving firm authorization pursuant to internal firm approval procedures,” a Barnes & Thornburg spokesperson told Law&Crime in an email Friday afternoon. “The firm has withdrawn as local counsel in this matter and has ended the client relationship. The attorney representing the client in this matter is no longer with the firm.”

Beck filed paperwork on Friday to memorialize the departure.

“Pursuant to Rule 83.5(a)(1) of the Local Rules of the United States District Court for the District of Minnesota, the undersigned counsel hereby notifies the Court and counsel that Alec J. Beck has changed his firm affiliation and contact information,” a one-page document in the Lindell litigation explains. “No attorney from Barnes & Thornburg LLP remains of record and the firm’s appearance is thus withdrawn.”

Beck’s co-counsel in the matter, attorneys Douglas A. Daniels and Heath A. Novosad, are of Houston, Texas. They have both filed paperwork for admission pro hac vice in the District of Minnesota — that is, to handle the Lindell matter only. To do so, they need an attorney admitted to practice in the District of Minnesota to serve as “local counsel.”

In an email to Law&Crime, Daniels confirmed that Beck would remain on as local counsel despite his departure from Barnes & Thornburg. Daniels declined to go into detail about whether Beck’s separation from his now-former law firm was fair under the circumstances given his participation in Lindell’s lawsuit.

Ironically, Barnes & Thornburg publicized Beck’s comments about the 2020 election as recently as last October. A press release noted that Beck reminded the Society for Human Resource Management that in many states, employers are required by law to afford employees time off from work so that they can vote. Beck said employees likely would need additional time off from work to vote in 2020 given the hurdles and difficulties posed by the novel coronavirus pandemic.

“Voting by mail is widely available this year,” Beck told the SHRM. “Generally speaking, however, if an employee plans to vote in person, the protocols are no different than in any other situation.”

Barnes & Thornburg quickly scrubbed Beck’s biography from the firm’s website, but the firm touted his hiring with significant fanfare. A November 5, 2019 press release spoke of Beck in glowing terms:

Beck brings over 30 years of labor and employment experience and represents clients in a variety of industries, including construction, manufacturing, transportation and agribusiness. He provides guidance on a wide range of employment law and labor relations matters including union avoidance, collective bargaining, harassment and discrimination, workers compensation, unfair labor practice proceedings and arbitration. Beck has tried cases, including jury trials, in state and federal courts and before administrative agencies, including the U.S. Department of Labor, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the National Labor Relations Board.

[ . . . ]

Beck is certified by the Minnesota State Bar Association as a specialist in labor and employment law and by the Human Resource Certification Institute as a senior professional in human resources (SPHR). He previously served as chair of the Minnesota State Bar Association’s Labor and Employment Section and currently serves as legal counsel to the Minnesota state chapter of the Society of Human Resource Managers (SHRM).

Beck earned his J.D. from the William Mitchell College of Law and his B.A. from the University of Minnesota.

“Our national practice has seen tremendous growth this year and I’m thrilled to continue that momentum with Alec’s hire,” said Kenneth J. Yerkes, chair of the Labor and Employment Department, in that same 2019 press release. “Alec strengthens our national bench, especially in our traditional labor practice, and will serve as a trusted adviser and advocate for our clients navigating this challenging area of law.”

“High-profile hires such as Alec demonstrates the culture we’ve built in our 10 years in Minneapolis and our ability to attract top-notch talent,” said Connie Lahn, managing partner of the Minneapolis office, back in 2019. “Alec is an exceptional attorney and bolsters both our office’s capabilities and our presence in the local market.”

An online attorney license database maintained by the Minnesota Judicial Branch says Beck was admitted to practice law in the North Star State on October 27, 1989 and that he remains authorized to practice law.

Beck did not immediately respond to a Law&Crime request for comment.

[image of Lindell via YouTube screengrab]

The post Law Firm Dumps Mike Lindell as Client, Severs Ties with Attorney Less Than One Day After Lawsuit Against Dominion, Smartmatic first appeared on Law & Crime.

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June 4, 2021 at 04:37PM

‘Zip-Tie Guy’ and His Mother Now Face More Than Twice as Many Charges in Capitol Siege Case, Including for Bringing a Taser to Congress

Federal prosecutors more than doubled the charges against so-called “Zip-Tie Guy” Eric Munchel and his mother Lisa Marie Eisenhart in a superseding indictment filed on Wednesday, charging them with eight counts, including carrying a deadly or dangerous weapon into the U.S. Capitol.

That weapon was a Taser, prosecutors say.

Spotted jumping around the Senate chamber in military gear, Munchel got his nickname after wire photographs captured him carrying tactical restraints inside Congress. Munchel claimed to have picked up the plastic handcuffs that Capitol police left behind, but he was not the only person to have done so. Prosecutors have noted that they theoretically could have been used for taking hostages, though they have not specifically alleged that there was such a plot.

Eric Munchel carrying plastic handcuffs

In this iconic image of the Jan. 6th siege on the U.S. Capitol, Eric Munchel could be seen toting plastic handcuffs as he jumped over a handrail inside the Senate chamber in full combat gear. (Photo via Win McNamee/Getty Images)

Ultimately, however, it was a different weapon that figured into the grand jury’s superseding indictment against Munchel and his mother Eisenhart. Authorities have long alleged that Munchel carried a black and yellow “Taser Pulse” in a black holster of his camouflage pants, a detail that appeared in an FBI affidavit against him back in January.

The superseding indictment accuses both of them of bringing that weapon inside the restricted grounds.

The D.C. Circuit previously issued a ruling leading to Munchel and his mother’s release from jail, honing in on the fact that prosecutors did not accuse of them of engaging in violence or vandalism. The ruling in their appeal subsequently raised the bar for prosecutors trying to keep accused U.S. Capitol rioters behind bars pending their trial.

“The District Court based its dangerousness determination on a finding that ‘Munchel’s alleged conduct indicates that he is willing to use force to promote his political ends,’ and that ‘[s]uch conduct poses a clear risk to the community,’” the appellate court ruled, effectively overturning the pair’s pretrial detention order. “In making this determination, however, the Court did not explain how it reached that conclusion notwithstanding the countervailing finding that ‘the record contains no evidence indicating that, while inside the Capitol, Munchel or Eisenhart vandalized any property or physically harmed any person,’ […] and the absence of any record evidence that either Munchel or Eisenhart committed any violence on January 6.”

The initial, three-count indictment charged only obstructing an official proceeding, entering a restricted building or grounds and a related violent entry or disorderly conduct charge.

The eight-count, superseding indictment also include conspiracy to commit obstruction, three weapon-related counts, entering and remaining in the gallery of Congress, and parading, demonstrating or picketing in a Capitol building.

Munchel’s lawyer did not immediately respond to an email requesting comment.

Days after Jan. 6, the FBI and Joint Terrorism Task Force executed a search warrant upon Munchel’s home in Nashville and allegedly located the items that he wore during the Capitol siege: the tactical vest with a “Punisher” comic book and Tennessee “thin blue line” patches; a baseball cap with a rifle and a flag; and five pairs of white plastic handcuffs. The FBI also found a stash of 15 firearms, including assault rifles, a sniper rifle with a tripod, shotguns, pistols, and hundreds of rounds of ammunition, pictures of which were in court records.

Munchel’s lawyers previously said that those weapons were lawful.

Read the superseding indictment below:

(Images from DOJ filings)

The post ‘Zip-Tie Guy’ and His Mother Now Face More Than Twice as Many Charges in Capitol Siege Case, Including for Bringing a Taser to Congress first appeared on Law & Crime.

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June 2, 2021 at 04:34PM

Accused Capitol Rioter Who Wanted to ‘Participate in Anarchy’ Dared the Feds to Investigate ‘Deez Nuts.’ They Did.

As a mob of pro-Trump insurrectionists stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, one alleged rioter dared authorities on Facebook to investigate “deez nuts.” Nearly two months and multiple government informants later, federal prosecutors followed through on that with criminal charges against the man they say was behind that post.

According to the criminal complaint filed in Washington, D.C. federal court, closed circuit camera footage and several videos posted to Facebook show James Matthew Horning inside the Capitol Building during of the riot. Like many others arrested for their role in the melee, Horning showed no remorse, appearing to revel in his actions and providing authorities with self-incriminating evidence on social media.

In a Facebook post commenting on the events of Jan. 6, an account authorities believe belongs to Horning said he was “proud” to have taken part in the riots before defiantly calling for an investigation.

“To anyone on my list who has a problem with what happened in DC today…I am damn proud I was there. If you have a problem with that, hit the inbox if you want.. or use the unfriend feature if you ain’t bout it. Those of you calling for an investigation, why don’t you try investigating deez nuts with ya chin,” he wrote.

Horning’s account also posted five videos titled “Videos from DC” which depicting him and others at the Capitol that day, and appeared to have no problems publicly discussing his specific motivations for attending.

“I’m curious why you went to DC: just a show or actual intent to violently overthrow the election? Legit question,” a Facebook user asked Horning.

“3 reasons… to be there when history happens,” Horning replied. “To participate in anarchy. To smoke weed in government buildings…..The real reason was to intimidate congress…they have a 9% approval rating. We accomplished that. Maybe they will work on that because they know we could have got them and have mercy.”

One of the other videos posted to Horning’s account showed him smoking what the affidavit described as “an unknown substance.” In the footage, Horning says “Fuck it, smoking a joint on the Capitol steps right now.”

Responding to a meme someone posted on Facebook asserting that rioters would have been treated differently if they were Black, Horning said: “There were black people in the crowd. I was there. I let one of them hit the joint that I rolled and fired up in the chambers.”

Horning is facing charges of knowingly entering and remaining in a restricted building without legal authority, knowingly intending to impede or disrupt the orderly conduct of Government, and knowingly engaging in conduct with the intent to disrupt a session of Congress.

Read the full criminal complaint below.

James Mathew Horning Charge by Law&Crime on Scribd

[image via criminal complaint]

The post Accused Capitol Rioter Who Wanted to ‘Participate in Anarchy’ Dared the Feds to Investigate ‘Deez Nuts.’ They Did. first appeared on Law & Crime.

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March 1, 2021 at 03:43PM