Federal prosecutors ratcheted up charges against two of the men charged in a U.S. Capitol breach docket, detailing their alleged plans to coordinate bringing guns inside Congress in a violent effort to stop the certification of President Joe Biden’s electoral victory.
Initially charged with less serious offenses this past January, Ronald Sandlin and Nathan DeGrave face a dozen charges, including conspiracy, obstructing an official proceeding, and assaulting Capitol police officers. The alarming 15-page, 12-count indictment suggests that the grand jury’s investigation has advanced considerably since their dockets opened early this year.
Announced by the U.S. Attorney’s office on Monday, the superseding indictment was first filed on Sept. 15. Sandlin pleaded not guilty to the charges on Sept. 21, and DeGrave pleaded not guilty on this afternoon. Their next scheduled court appearance is slated for Oct. 21.
The new allegations also indicate coordination between the men and Idaho man Josiah Colt, who has been cooperating with federal authorities since pleading guilty in July.
“Stand Behind Trump When He Decides to Cross the Rubicon”
The new charges trace the alleged conspiracy back to Dec. 23, 2020, when Sandlin allegedly asked his Facebook friends who would travel with him to the nation’s capital to “stop the steal and stand behind Trump when he decides to cross the rubicon” on Jan. 6.
Before the assault on the U.S. Capitol, Trump supporters frequently pined for the then-lame duck president to “cross the Rubicon,” an expression that refers to Julius Caesar’s action that brought the end of the Roman Republic and turned himself into an all-powerful emperor. Kelly Ward, the chairwoman of Arizona’s Republican Party, herself echoed that call, denounced by many as openly pining for authoritarian rule.
DeGrave, a 32-year-old from Nevada, answered that call, and Sandlin, 34-year-old Tennessee resident, proposed meeting him in Memphis to drive up to D.C., prosecutors claim.
But Sandlin allegedly soon got queasy about the potential for violence—a possibility that prosecutors say he later embraced.
“Yo sorry bro I’m going back and fourth about going some people I respect are saying it may get dangerous,” Sandlin is quoted messaging DeGrave privately on Facebook. “Are you down for danger bro?”
“Im bringing bullet proof clothing,” DeGrave allegedly responded, before answering the question with a simple “yes.”
On New Year’s Eve, Sandlin asked for help from his Facebook community in finding someone “[w]ho can shoot and has excellent aim and can teach me today or tomorrow,” according to the indictment.
Prosecutors say that this query prompted the following exchange:
In response to other users’ comments to this post, DeGrave wrote “I want somebody special forces or ex fbi to teach me”; “I want personalized training from the best”; and “I’m open to learning all the essential skills. Whatever is necessary to survive.” When a user recommended a particular person for the task and advised “he’s not cheap,” DeGrave responded that “this is for a very patriotic cause.”
That same day, Sandlin allegedly launched a GoFundMe webpage with the caption “Patriots Defending Our Country On Jan. 6th” accompanied by a Photoshop-ed image of his face superimposed on the image of a man in a car holding what appears to be a gold-plated semi-automatic rifle.
According to the indictment, the graphic was not merely fantasy. That same day, the three men allegedly talked about “shipping guns” to Sandlin’s home in Tennessee.
“Colt said he would try to fly with his ‘G43’-a reference to a Glock .43 pistol,” the superseding indictment states. “Sandlin later stated he was bringing his ‘little pocket gun’ and a knife. When Sandlin provided his address to DeGrave later that evening, DeGrave wrote to Sandlin that he had ‘about 300 worth of stuff coming to you.’ Sandlin and Colt later shared pictures of their recent purchases, including a glock holster, gas masks, and a helmet.”
On Jan. 4, DeGrave allegedly sent Sandlin and Colt an email with a screenshot from wildprotest.com, a website associated with the so-called “Stop the Steal Coalition.” The page’s ownership information is redacted from registries, and the page then included a map of the U.S. Capitol.
That same day, Sandlin allegedly posted a photograph on Facebook showing Colt lying in a bed holding a firearm.
“My fellow patriot Josiah Colt sleeping ready for the boogaloo Jan 6,'” Sandlin allegedly wrote in the caption.
The “Boogaloo” is a watchword popular among far-right extremists pining for a second U.S. Civil War.
Colt responded to the post that he was “[r]eady for any battle,” prosecutors say.
According to the indictment, the trio ultimately did drive together to Washington, D.C.
“In the car, they brought with them paramilitary gear, one Glock .43 pistol, an M&P bodyguard pocket pistol, two magazines of ammunition, knives, a handheld taser/stun gun, an expandable baton, walkie talkies, and bear mace,” the indictment states.
“Freedom Is Paid for with Blood”
After arriving at a hotel in Maryland, the trio allegedly decided not not to carry guns “for the camera’s sake” — because they planned to live-stream their antics and knew that carrying firearms in D.C. was a “felony,” prosecutors say.
“Later that day, still before the attack on the Capitol began, Sandlin, Colt, and DeGrave created a video, which Sandlin live streamed on social media and called on ‘fellow patriots’ to watch,” the indictment alleges. “In it, Sandlin stated four times that ‘freedom is paid for with blood.’ He also stated that ‘there is going to be violence.’ He further stated that ‘if you are watching this and you are a patriot and are here, I think it is time to take the Capitol.” In the video, Sandlin continued to ‘urge other patriots’ watching the video to ‘take the Capitol.'”
After making the videos, the trio put on protective gear, including a gas mask, face mask, two helmets, shin guards, a protective vest/body armor, and motorcycle jackets.
“They also carried two knives and walkie talkies,” court papers say.
Prosecutors say that DeGrave celebrated the invasion on the U.S. Capitol on video.
“They just breached the Capitol building,” DeGrave allegedly exclaimed. “That’s it, bro. It’s game time. We all armored up, we got a gas mask. This is what separates us true patriots from everyone else who is all talk-you know, fuck this, fuck that, sitting at home, we out here taking action. It’s Dr. Death in the building and it’s about to go down.”
Once inside the building, Sandlin and DeGrave alleged pushed multiple police officers, whose names are shielded in court papers as Officer K.T., Officer B.A., and Officer A.W.
“DeGrave shouted ‘get the fuck through’ and ‘kick [the door] the fuck open,’ and Sandlin attempted to rip the helmet off Officer B.A.,” the indictment alleges.
After Colt entered the Senate chamber, DeGrave shouted at him and others inside to “take laptops, paperwork, take everything,” prosecutors say.
In a separate case, prosecutors accused one woman have having stolen a laptop from the office of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.).
Colt, who was photographed dangling from the Senate balcony, called Pelosi a “traitor” on a Facebook video. He would later plead guilty to obstructing with an official proceeding.
Read the superseding indictment below:
(Image from court papers)
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