Federico Klein Ordered Jailed Pending Trial in Capitol Breach | Law&Crime
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‘Very Brazen’ Former Trump State Department Employee Ordered Jailed Pending Trial in U.S. Capitol Breach

Federal magistrate judge Zia Faruqui on Tuesday ordered a Trump Administration official to remain in jail pending trial on charges he played a key role in the Jan. 6 siege on the U.S. Capitol.

Defendant Federico Guillermo “Freddie” Klein is accused of six federal crimes in connection with the siege. Klein worked as a so-called “Schedule-C political appointee” in the State Department’s “office of Brazilian and Southern Cone Affairs.”

Judge Faruqui, while ruling against the defendant, said Klein swore multiple oaths as a government employee and as a former member of the armed forces to protect America against “all enemies foreign and domestic” — but then “switched sides” by participating in the siege.

The hearing was plagued by remote connection issues.

“I am currently in a cinderblock room,” Klein said while addressing a terrible audible echo during the early moments of the hearing. He agreed to mute his microphone to allow the proceeding to continue.

Prosecutors pressed their request for detention after another brief pause as courthouse staffers and the judge realized a previous defendant was still on the line.

“Sorry about that,” the judge said to Klein. “We’re back here.”

Prosecutors said Klein’s “violent and enthusiastic” participation in a “dangerous mob” on the “lower West Terrance” of the Capitol should result in his incarceration pending trial. That’s where prosecutor Jocelyn Bond noted that crews were “building the inauguration stage” for Joe Biden’s ascension to the White House.

An archway near that stage “was the scene” of violence for about “two and a half hours” as officers and “rioters were coming in and out,” Bond continued.

The prosecutor said Klein was among the first wave of “rioters” to fight over that location. She said Klein stole a police riot shield and tried to use it. The government characterized the shield as a “dangerous weapon” — a legal distinction that ratchets up the seriousness of the charges.

“While he was at the front, he ignored orders from multiple officers to back up,” Bond said while referring to Klein. Klein “completely ignored” those orders; rather, he shoved the shield into a door in order to hold it open.

Bond described Klein as “battling” and “shoving” officers with the riot shield in an “unrelenting” manner.

Pepper spray ultimately “physically neutralized” Klein, but “for more than 30 minutes, he was going without backing down,” Bond said.

She also said Klein was  “actively encouraging other rioters to do the same.”

“We need fresh people,” Klein is accused of telling others in video evidence referenced by federal prosecutors.

“We believe it weighs heavily in favor of detention,” Bond concluded.

The government said a former colleague who worked with Klein for “several years” at the State Department helped identify the defendant in video taken on Jan. 6.

“He took these actions in full — in broad daylight in front of hundreds of officers who were trying to keep people out of the Capitol building,” prosecutors said of Klein. “It was very brazen.”

Prosecutors were even more incensed given Klein’s status as “a federal employee under oath . . . to uphold the Constitution.”

“He does not value his commitments when he is under oath,” prosecutors said.  “Mr. Klein was employed as a federal employee” who “disregarded” the trust placed in him.

The judge later latched onto those arguments, but not before defense attorney Stanley Woodward, Jr. argued in favor of Klein.

“We’re not going to attempt to diminish the seriousness of the events of Jan. 6th,” Woodward said to kick off an argument which failed to keep Klein out of jail.  Rather, Woodward accused the government of focusing on a narrow range of legal rationale for keeping a defendant detained; Woodward argued for a more holistic approach in examining his client’s case. Woodward also said the offenses Klein faces were not “violent” under the law.

The judge asked Bond whether the government believed the allegations qualified as “crimes of violence.”

“Assaulting officer with a weapon is a crime of violence,” Bond said.

Woodward noted that the government was not arguing for detention under 18 U.SC. § 3142(f)(2), a subsection of federal law which allows judges to incarcerate defendants who pose a flight risk, who might obstruct justice, or who might threaten witnesses or jurors.

The judge said he welcomed briefing on the matter but otherwise agreed with the government.

“Based on my understanding of the law, this is, in fact, a crime of violence,” the judge said.

Woodward then pivoted to say the government was “speculating” about Klein’s motives.

“They readily acknowledge that they don’t know how he came in possession of that object,” he said with reference to the allegedly stolen police shield. (The judge later rubbished the thought that someone would randomly come to possess a police shield and bring it to the capitol on Jan. 6.)

“This was total chaos, so we don’t think it’s fair to describe Mr. Klein as ignoring any direct orders from law enforcement,” the defense said.

Woodward then said there was no evidence Klein made it into the Capitol building and suggested there were issues with the identification of Klein by a State Department colleague who the defense “know[s] nothing” about.

“All of this is entirely circumstantial at this point,” the defense said. “We’re relying on speculative evidence at best . . . he’s a retired marine and an Iraqi war veteran” who served with “honor” and held a “top secret security clearance.”

The defense then suggested it was unfair to keep Klein locked up.

“We’ve identified at least 17 individuals . . . released” pending trial in Capitol siege cases, Woodward said — again arguing through spotty connection issues which caused pauses and repeated testimony in the remote hearing.

Woodward continued by describing Klein as an “outstanding” individual in comparison to others who were arrested at the Capitol and subsequently released pending trial. One person Woodward described was an alleged Oath Keeper who entered the Capitol with bear spray, a communications radio, and other weapons. Another was alleged to have “flown to Africa on Jan. 24” and who needed to be extradited back to the United States. Another tased an officer, causing the officer to have a heart attack. The list went on and on. It included Jacob Chansley, the so-called “QAnon Shaman,” who Klein’s attorneys characterized as worse by comparison.

“The government has failed to prove” that Klein’s release would endanger the community, Woodward concluded.

Bond responded by saying Klein remained in the tunnel for thirty minutes continuing to try to fight his way into the Capitol building.

Also at issue was whether Klein’s hat switched. Prosecutors believe Klein’s MAGA hat fell off during the chaos and that Klein grabbed another red hat nearby. It was accidentally the wrong one.

Prosecutors also balked at the defense’s attempt to draw a connection between Chansley and Klein. The two defendants were “not similarly situated” people and therefore were not comparable, Bond said.

“Mr. Klein should not be detained,” Woodward shot back. He again argued that everything which occurred in the tunnel was “chaos” and that Klein’s status as a former federal employee was “not the standard” for reviewing pretrial detention claims as a matter of law.

Judge Faruqui then ran the facts through the necessary law and ruled that Klein was a danger to the community who needed to remain locked up.

“The great magnitude of what was trying to be done” on Jan. 6 was not lost, the judge said. He called the events a “chaotic riot” which were “aimed to stop the lawful process of democracy.”

“He was there out of a belief that the election was fraudulent,” Faruqui said of Klein. “While there was chaos, it was self induced.”

“The defense . . . wisely chose not to mitigate” the seriousness of the Jan. 6 events, Faruqui then said with reference to Woodward’s tactics.

Faruqui then noted that Klein was present in “one of the most dangerous areas” of the Capitol on Jan. 6 called Klein’s conduct “particularly troubling” given the “very strong” nature of the evidence.

The judge also said the state department employee’s identification of the defendant was credible.

He further noted that Klein’s status as a service member should be “honored” — but not by granting Klein’s request for a release from jail. Rather, Klein’s veteran status gave the judge a cause for “greater concern.” He said Klein was in a position of leadership and authority which could allow him to recruit future violence.

Faruqui then said accused Klein of shunning his constitutional oaths to protect American democracy.

The judge said the parties could appeal the decision to keep Klein incarcerated to the chief judge, who would renew the factors de novo.

The next hearing in the case for March 22.

Klein is charged with knowingly entering or remaining in any restricted building or grounds without lawful authority; violent entry and disorderly conduct on capitol grounds; obstruction of justice/congress; obstruction of law enforcement during civil disorder; assaulting, resisting, or impeding certain officers; and assaulting, resisting, or impeding certain officers using a dangerous weapon.

[image via federal court records]

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Aaron Keller holds a juris doctor degree from the University of New Hampshire School of Law and a broadcast journalism degree from Syracuse University.  He is a former anchor and executive producer for the Law&Crime Network and is now a Senior Editor for the Law&Crime website. DISCLAIMER:  This website is for general informational purposes only.  You should not rely on it for legal advice.  Reading this site or interacting with the author via this site does not create an attorney-client relationship.  This website is not a substitute for the advice of an attorney.  Speak to a competent lawyer in your jurisdiction for legal advice and representation relevant to your situation.