A Proud Boys leader facing conspiracy charges for his role in the U.S. Capitol siege on Thursday asked a federal judge to keep him out of jail ahead of his trial, saying the Justice Department’s bid to detain him is based on old evidence.
Joseph Biggs was initially arrested on lesser offenses, including disorderly conduct on the Capitol grounds and trespassing. He was freed from detention shortly after his arrest.
Since then, a federal grand jury has indicted him and others charges they plotted to cause mayhem at the Capitol ahead of the Jan. 6 vote to certify President Biden’s election victory.
The 37-year-old Florida resident has pleaded not guilty.
Justice Department prosecutors last month said they discovered new messages from Mr. Biggs and Ethan Nordean, another Proud Boys leader also facing conspiracy charges for his role in the Capitol riot. The Justice Department has asked a federal judge in Washington to revoke their pretrial release.
A hearing for both men was scheduled for Thursday in Washington, but it was postponed to give defense attorneys time to amend their arguments. A new hearing date was not announced.
Prosecutors say the messages shared on an encrypted channel show both men pose a threat to the community.
“Allowing [Mr. Biggs] to stay on pretrial release, even in home confinement, would leave a man who has the wherewithal to help and lead a large group of men in a violent attack to take similar actions in the future in furtherance of his goals,” prosecutors wrote in court documents.
“And there is every reason to believe he, like his co-defendants, poses the same risk of dangers to others and the community that he posed leading up to and on January 6,” the filing continued.
Prosecutors say the messages show that Mr. Biggs and Mr. Nordean directed Proud Boys members to assault the Capitol.
The day before the Capitol riot, Mr. Biggs wrote that the Proud Boys were in Washington, adding “tomorrow is the day.”
A text message from another person charged in the riot says that Mr. Nordean is “supposed to be” leading the group.
In an amended complaint filed Thursday, defense attorneys say investigators were aware of the text messages before a detention hearing for Mr. Biggs and Mr. Nordean.
They also say the messages are “speculative” and the Justice Department is presenting “somewhat dramatic interpretations” of the communications.
“No ‘new evidence, especially in Biggs’ case, exists,” they wrote. “No information acquired by the government since January 20 suddenly supports detaining Biggs now. Nor importantly does anything that has happened since his release.”
The detention hearing was scheduled to follow a ruling earlier this week in which a federal judge released Eric Munchel, the Capitol rioter known as “zip-tie guy” and his mom, saying they don’t pose a danger to the community.
However, Mr. Biggs and Mr. Nordean face the more serious charge of conspiracy. Mr. Munchel and his mom were charged with minor trespassing offenses.