Philly DA seeks contempt charge for Vets for Trump cofounder

New video footage shows Vets for Trump co-founders meeting with right-wing leaders a day before the Jan. 6 riots.

PHILADELPHIA — Philadelphia prosecutors on Monday asked a judge to arrest a Virginia man on contempt of court charges over a video showing him with top leaders of two far-right groups in Washington DC the day before the Jan. 6 riot.

Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner’s request, in the case against 43-year-old Joshua Macias, comes after the House committee investigating the riot highlighted the May 5 underground garage meeting between leaders of the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers January have been charged with seditious conspiracy in the attack on the Capitol.

Macias was arrested on gun and voting law charges in November 2020 after driving to the Pennsylvania Convention Center, where guns and ammunition were used to count votes. He was out on bail on January 6th.

Macias, the co-founder of the group Vets for Trump, has not been charged in the Capitol riots. But Philadelphia prosecutors say his presence at the extremist leaders’ meeting the previous day suggests he played a much more important role in the riot than they previously thought. Enrique Tarrio, former leader of the Proud Boys, and Stewart Rhodes, leader of the Oath Keepers, have both been accused of plotting with other extremists to prevent the peaceful transfer of power.

“We need to radically reconsider whether Joshua Macias is a medium fish or a shark. I think he’s a shark,” Krasner said. “He will be charged with bail condition violations already this week. But this is a startling revelation.”

Attorney William J. Brennan, representing Macias, declined to comment on the new application Monday, but said he plans to continue hearing the case in court rather than in the media. A phone message left for co-counsel in the case went unanswered Monday.

The Philadelphia filing comes as the House panel investigating the Jan. 6 riot took a cue to highlight the secret parking garage meeting mentioned in the federal indictments, raising more questions about how many people might be knew about the far-right groups’ plans to carry out the next day.

The publicly released video of Rhodes and Tarrio’s meeting doesn’t reveal much about their discussion. A documentary filmmaker – who filmed Tarrio testifying at last week’s House hearing – recorded part of the meeting, but Tarrio and others urged him to stop.

Federal prosecutors have said only that one of the participants in the meeting “made reference to the Capitol,” but no further details about what the extremist group’s two leaders discussed were disclosed in the criminal cases or House of Representatives hearings.

Federal prosecutors argued in a court filing last month that Tarrio’s decision to meet with Rhodes shows he was “preoccupied with planning for January 6 even after his Jan. 4 arrest” on charges of being a black man Destroying the Lives Matter banner at a historic black church during a protest in December 2020.

Macias was a scheduled speaker outside the Capitol on Jan. 6 and used, prosecutors said, the same language the Oath Keepers had circulated, including saying that Vice President Pence was a traitor who betrayed the country.

Macias was arrested along with Antonio LaMotta, 63, early on November 5, 2020 after Philadelphia police officers responded to a tip from the FBI and stopped the men near the convention center.

Authorities said they parked a Hummer a few blocks away, adorned with QAnon stickers and containing an AR-style rifle, more than 100 rounds of ammunition, a sword and lock-picking tools. LaMotta carried an unlicensed firearm and Macias carried a Virginia-licensed firearm, authorities said.

Prosecutors had asked for the two to be held without bail, calling the incident a mass shooting that almost happened. A judge set bail at $750,000 with 10% bail.

Prosecutors filed a motion to have that bail revoked, arguing that both men violated the terms of their release by attending the Jan. 6 rally and supporting Macias, a pro-Trump candidate. It was also noted that this candidate was present at the January 5 parking garage meeting.

A judge increased bail for the two men to $850,000 and they were released.

Prosecutors called for a contempt hearing after video surfaced on social media of Macias allegedly narrating live video from behind the camera during a “trucker protest” in Washington, claiming he attended at least one political rally for a Virginia candidate has called for the execution of everyone involved in the election of President Joe Biden.

A hearing into the initial contempt allegations is scheduled for Friday. In Monday’s motion, prosecutors asked that Macias be found guilty of criminal contempt and sentenced to five months and 29 days in prison.

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