One of the two armed men arrested outside the Pennsylvania Convention Center as poll workers were counting votes during the 2020 presidential election later met with the leaders of two far-right extremist groups a day before the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, prosecutors said Monday.
District Attorney Larry Krasner argued that the suspect, 43-year-old Joshua Macias, “was central to the insurrection,” alongside the heads of the Oath Keepers and Proud Boys, two organizations accused of spearheading the riot.
Testimony from the U.S. House committee investigating Jan. 6 revealed that Macias participated in a meeting inside a Washington, D.C. parking garage the day prior to the insurrection with Henry “Enrique” Tarrio, of the Proud Boys, and Oath Keepers’ leader Stewart Rhodes.
A documentary filmmaker who spoke to lawmakers, Nick Quested, recorded the gathering, but he was asked to step away for a part of the conversation.
Federal authorities recently charged Tarrio with seditious conspiracy, the most serious crime leveled at alleged Jan. 6 organizers. Rhodes also faces sedition charges.
“We need to radically reconsider whether Joshua Macias is a mid-sized fish or a shark,” Krasner told reporters. “I say that he is a shark. He has proven how dangerous he can be.”
Macias, of Virginia Beach, was filmed speaking at a rally near the Capitol on Jan. 6; however, he has not been criminally charged in connection with the insurrection.
Krasner’s office filed additional paperwork Monday ahead of a hearing on Friday asking a Court of Common Pleas judge to hold Macias in criminal contempt for violating his bail conditions and to sentence him to the maximum penalty — nearly six months in jail.
Such a move would likely keep Macias behind bars until his Philadelphia trial, scheduled for October, in which faces charges including weapons violations and election interference.
“We will continue to litigate this case in the courtroom and not in the press,” Macias’s attorneys, William Brennan and Alan Tauber, told Metro, declining to comment further.
Brennan, in an April motion, argued that Macias’ unusual bail terms, which bar him from using social media or attending political rallies, are an unnecessary restriction of his First Amendment rights, saying his “speech did not encourage, promote, endorse or celebrate anything of a criminal nature.”
Macias, prosecutors say, has repeatedly breached the conditions, endorsing far-right candidates on social media, utilizing his “Vets for Trump” accounts, and attending a trucker protest in March.
He and Antonio Lamotta, 63, were apprehended outside the Convention Center in November 2020 after the FBI warned Philadelphia police that the pair were traveling to the city to possibly disrupt the ballot-counting process.
Both were carrying handguns, and officers found an assault rifle, more than 100 rounds of ammunition, and lock-picking equipment inside the duo’s Hummer, according to the DA’s Office.
Prosecutors discussed the latest developments in the case on the same day former City Commissioner Al Schmidt testified before the Jan. 6 committee.
His former colleague, Lisa Deeley, chair of the city commissioners, who are in charge of overseeing elections in Philadelphia, repeatedly questioned how Macias and Lamotta could be allowed to be released on bail.
“This country has seen way too many mass shootings, and the only thing that stopped Macias and Lamotta from putting the Convention Center on that list was law enforcement identifying them as threats and arresting them before they could carry it out,” she said Monday.
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