- The Washington Times - Saturday, March 13, 2021

Thomas Edward Caldwell, a 65-year-old Navy veteran from Virginia accused of conspiring with members of the Oath Keepers militia who breached the U.S. Capitol, was ordered freed pending trial Friday.

U.S. District Judge Amit Mehta agreed to release Mr. Caldwell on home confinement at the end of a pretrial status conference held more than 50 days since the defendant was booked into a Virginia jail.

Judge Metha, an Obama appointee, said during the court hearing that he was concerned for Mr. Caldwell‘s health before ultimately ruling against the federal government and ordering him released.

Mr. Caldwell, a retired Navy lieutenant commander, is among nine co-defendants with alleged connections to the Oath Keepers militia charged under a federal indictment with conspiracy and other counts. He was arrested on Jan. 19.

Defense lawyer David Fischer maintains Mr. Caldwell is not a member of the Oath Keepers, and both he and the government agree that his client was nearby but never breached the Capitol on Jan. 6.

However, federal prosecutors argue there is plenty of evidence Mr. Caldwell was in touch with militia member co-defendants who stormed the building in the days before and afterward the seize.

Judge Metha agreed said is “no doubt” that Mr. Caldwell was involved in planning and preparing with co-defendants who entered the Capitol, but he said he was unsure about what their plan was.

“There are no text messages [or] communications by him that speak to actually entering the building or trying to enter the building, and ultimately he did not enter the building,” said Judge Metha.

Indeed, Mr. Fischer has argued that Mr. Caldwell is “100% disabled” and would have been unable to force his way into the Capitol building on accounts of his physical limitations.

Discussing his client’s health during the hearing, Mr. Fischer repeatedly said the defendant is suffering in jail because he is denied access to the pain treatment he usually receives for back problems.

Judge Metha acknowledged the health concerns before agreeing to release Mr. Caldwell under what he called “very strict conditions,” including 24-hour home confinement and electronic monitoring.

Additionally, Judge Metha barred Mr. Caldwell from accessing the internet, communicating with his co-defendants, or coming into Washington, D.C., among other conditions.

Earlier in the hearing, Mr. Fischer indicated his client would obey any conditions imposed by the court.

“This is a beaten-down man who is suffering. He will abide by the conditions. And this man can take an order. He was in the Navy for 25 years, your honor. He will take the court‘s orders,” he said.

Mr. Caldwell has been charged with conspiracy; conspiracy to impede or injure an officer; destruction of government property; obstruction of an official proceeding; trespassing on Capitol grounds and violent entry or disorderly conduct. He has pleaded not guilty to all charges.

Prosecutors have charged more than 300 people so far in connection with the riot.

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