Judge in Vegas: 2 to stay in US custody in Capitol riot case
LAS VEGAS (AP) — Two men who were arrested in Las Vegas last week and accused of violence at the U.S. Capitol amid supporters of former President Donald Trump were ordered Monday to remain in federal custody while they are transferred to Washington, D.C., to face criminal charges.
Ronald L. Sandlin, 33, a self-styled internet blogger and protest organizer from Tennessee, sobbed loudly and at one point blurted out, “Judge, have mercy on me,” during his videoconference detention hearing on multiple charges arising from the Jan. 6 breach at the Capitol.
In separate hearings, U.S. Magistrate Judge Daniel Albregts declared Sandlin and Nathan J. DeGrave, 31, of Las Vegas, each a danger to the public and a risk not to appear in court if they were freed.
The judged noted DeGrave dressed Jan. 6 in “full body armor tactical gear along with a facemask” and is accused of “storming the Capitol with a mob of people intent on overturning a lawful election and doing so with whatever means necessary, including violence.”
The men were arrested separately Thursday at DeGrave’s apartment, where authorities said Sandlin had been staying.
Neither defendant was asked to enter pleas to obstructing law enforcement officers during civil disorder, unlawful entry on restricted grounds and violence and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds. Combined, convictions on those charges could get each more than five years in prison.
Their hearings were interrupted several times by the loss of video links between the judge and the defendants in custody at a detention facility outside Las Vegas.
Sandlin’s attorney, Russell Marsh, lost a bid to convince the judge to release Sandlin to his parents at their farm home outside Memphis.
Albregts noted the government accuses Sandlin of owing $500,000 in taxes and said he saw in Sandlin an “utter lack of respect for some of the country’s most sacred institutions and laws.”
During DeGrave’s hearing, federal prosecutor Nicholas Dickinson told the judge that after physically confronting police officers in the Capitol, DeGrave removed his headgear, showing his face and a distinctive red-white-and-blue bandanna around his neck, then beat his own chest.
Sandlin, identified wearing an orange sweatshirt, is accused of trying to wrest the helmet off an officer — and apparently smoking a marijuana cigarette inside the Capitol Rotunda. Authorities previously reported that he was 31 years old.
An FBI affidavit alleges that comments posted hours after the rioting on an internet account with Sandlin’s name declares that he was among those who occupied the Capitol.
Documents say he is seen in a video clip saying, “We breached the building, we breached the building, into our Capitol.”
DeGrave is described saying in a selfie-style cellphone video the FBI said was recorded by Sandlin that it was “time to put an end to this once and for all.”
According to court documents, the two traveled to Washington with Josiah Colt, 34, an Idaho man who turned himself in to sheriff’s deputies Jan. 12 in Boise.
Colt is accused of boasting on the internet that he had been inside the Capitol, and photos show him sitting in a Senate chamber chair normally used by Vice President Mike Pence.
Colt later said he was sorry for his actions. He is free from federal custody in Boise pending a court appearance in Washington at a date yet to be set on charges of unlawful entry and violence on Capitol grounds.
The three men are among hundreds of people who, following a speech by Trump, stormed the Capitol, delaying a final count by the House and Senate of electoral votes and the declaration that Joe Biden won the presidential election.
Five people died in the rioting, including a Capitol police officer. More than 160 people around the U.S. have since been identified and arrested on charges stemming from the violence, according to the Justice Department.