Buckle up. It’s been a busy day.
In Washington, D.C., a federal judge on Thursday got closer to putting Proud Boy ringleader Henry Tarrio and his “ministry” of extremist co-defendants on trial for conspiracy to obstruct Congress from certifying the 2020 election, and a slew of other charges tied to the attack of the U.S. Capitol.
Another Proud Boy, Barry Ramey of Florida, accused of pepper-spraying police on Jan. 6 and subsequently threatening the FBI agent investigating him, was arrested.
In yet another courtroom on Thursday—also in Florida, as it were—a judge agreed to put Oath Keeper and ex-Special Forces soldier Jeremy Brown on trial later this summer for almost a dozen charges. After spending days planning his assault and replete in tactical gear, Brown, prosecutors allege, entered a restricted area with a pair of trauma shears strapped to his chest and had to be pushed back by police with batons on Jan. 6.
And right-wing troll and activist Anthime Gionet, who is charged with a single misdemeanor of parading after he livestreamed his breach of the Capitol, appears to be on the cusp of striking a deal with the Department of Justice after a judge set a plea hearing for May.
Henry Tarrio may want out of jail before his trial, but whether U.S. District Judge Timothy Kelly will grant him that wish remains to be seen. And if the judge denies that request, that will put Tarrio in detention through the summer, after new developments Thursday.
Judge Kelly proposed setting Aug. 8 as the new trial date for Tarrio and co-defendants Ethan Nordean, Joseph Biggs, Zachary Rehl, and Dominic Pezzola. All have pleaded not guilty.
Another conference will be held in a few weeks on May 19 to sort out lingering discovery issues, but with the docket in D.C. rapidly filling up and this trial already delayed once, Kelly pushed to get something on the calendar.
An attorney for Dominic Pezzola, who prosecutors say used a police riot shield to break into the Capitol, angled briefly to push the trial to September or October but eventually acquiesced to the August date.
John Hull, attorney for Proud Boy Joseph Biggs, said Thursday that Biggs is in solitary confinement and has had difficulty preparing for trial because he has had limited access to a laptop or tablet that would let him review evidence for his defense.
Hull and Kelly both acknowledged in court Thursday that Biggs may have been placed in solitary because if he is to review evidentiary material on a device, being in the general population could become problematic since he must be supervised when accessing those materials.
Judge Kelly said he would get the U.S. Marshals service at the Alexandria, Virginia, facility where Biggs is detained to assist.
Biggs Solitary Confinement Report by Daily Kos on Scribd
Elsewhere, another member of the Proud Boys network, Barry Bennett Ramey of Plantation, Florida, was arrested Thursday.
He faces multiple charges including assault of police with a deadly or dangerous weapon, obstructing police, entering a restricted area with the intent to impede law enforcement, engaging in physical violence while using a deadly or dangerous weapon, and physical violence on Capitol grounds.
Ramey, according to charging papers, assaulted multiple cops on Jan. 6 when he doused them with pepper spray as he joined a crush of rioters on the west flank of the Capitol.
Under the shadow of scaffolding that would soon be used to inaugurate President Joe Biden, Ramey screamed at U.S. Capitol Police who blocked him and other rioters from entering a stairwell. As they yelled in unison to “push” past the police line, Ramey allegedly sprayed one officer in the eyes and face with pepper spray. Moments later, he sprayed another officer in the face.
Ramey’s alleged brazenness, however, wasn’t limited to his conduct on Jan. 6.
According to an affidavit by an FBI agent, just a few weeks ago, Ramey allegedly called the special agent tasked to investigate him. The agent had left his business card with an associate of Ramey’s just a month earlier when trying to schedule an interview.
Ramey Statement of Facts by Daily Kos on Scribd
On the April 8 call, the agent said he recognized Ramey’s voice.
The agent said Ramey asked him to identify himself, then asked him if he still lived at his current address.
“Who is this?” the agent replied.
The caller hung up. Moments later, the agent received a text message from the same number. It included the VIN number for a car the agent previously owned. The agent sent back a response.
“????” he wrote.
“Check that VIN number. ;)” the reply stated.
According to court documents, with the help of multiple confidential informants, the FBI’s division in Miami determined that Ramey was also listed on a master list of Proud Boys membership.
Oath Keeper Jeremy Brown will go to trial on Aug., 1, according to an order issued by a federal judge in Florida on Thursday.
Brown—who once ran for a congressional seat in Florida—was originally hit with just two charges related to Jan. 6 including entering a restricted building and disorderly conduct. But when Brown posted a photo of his Florida home for sale on Zillow in October, it was a whiteboard with a series of curious notations that triggered additional charges.
In the picture, the whiteboard displayed multiple columns including one for “food,” “clothing,” and “shelter.” There were also sections labeled “currency,” “move,” “communicate” and “shoot.”
Under the “shoot” column, a series of weapons and explosives were listed including “flash bangs.” Another notation beneath it read, “on hand.”
After doing a quick check, the agent discovered Brown did not have the flashbangs registered, nor many of the other explosives and weapons found in his Tampa home.
Brown was charged with nine new counts just a week ago including charges for the unregistered explosives and 8,000 rounds of ammunition. When authorities searched his home, they also found a small stack of classified documents.
The records appear to be those Brown may have kept from his time in the military and are unrelated to his alleged conduct on Jan. 6. They include frequency reports on explosives from Afghanistan in 2004, IED reports from 2005, spider device testing procedures from 2004, and fragmentary orders from 2005.
Per the typical protocol for such cases, federal prosecutors asked the judge handling Brown’s case to appoint a classified information security officer. The judge agreed.
Listen to Kerry Eleveld and Markos Moulitsas discuss Jan. 6 insurrectionists and the Proud Boys with Dave Neiwert on Daily Kos’ The Brief podcast