WASHINGTON — Prosecutors are opposing the removal of an ankle monitor from a California man charged in the Capitol riot, saying in a new filing Wednesday they’ve learned a shipment of two knives and axes is headed to his home.
In the response filed in D.C. District Court Wednesday afternoon, assistant U.S. attorney Risa Berkower says the FBI had “learned of an overseas cargo shipment” being sent to Russell Taylor, of Ladera Ranch, California. Taylor was one of six alleged members of a Three Percenters militia group indicted last June on multiple felony counts in connection with Jan. 6.
Specifically, Berkower wrote, the FBI had learned the shipment contained “2 knives and 2 axes w/sheaths.” Taylor and his co-defendants are accused of conspiring to bring hatchets and body armor to the D.C. area to disrupt the joint session of Congress. Berkower noted in the motion Taylor himself faces three counts for allegedly bringing a knife onto Capitol grounds.
The filing came in response to a motion by Taylor and his attorney, Dyke E. Huish, last week asking for Taylor’s GPS monitor to be removed from his ankle. Taylor has been on pretrial release since last June under 24-hour location monitoring. According to Taylor’s motion, the monitor has resulted in excessive leg swelling and painful lesions which have “grown in size and concern” over the last few months. Huish says Taylor’s doctor has recommended the monitor be removed to allow the lesions to heal.
In Huish’s filing on June 17, he noted the government and pretrial services had told him they would defer to the court.
On Wednesday, though, Berkower said the DOJ would no longer defer and would instead oppose removing the monitor. She pointed to a second condition of Taylor’s pretrial release ordering him not to possess a firearm, destructive device or other weapon.
“Given that the content of this cargo shipment appears to constitute a violation of that condition, the government now respectfully notifies the Court of the potential violation,” Berkower wrote. “The government has also reported this information to the Probation Department.”
According to Huish’s motion, Taylor has had no violations and has shown good behavior since being granted release a year ago.
Huish did not respond to a request for comment Wednesday. On Thursday, however, he filed a response with the court explaining the knives and axes were intended to be prizes for a road rally competition organized by Taylor's employer. The shipment was addressed to Taylor's home, he said, because he is working remotely.
"Mr. Taylor never had any intention to own or keep these items," Huish wrote. "They were strictly and only to be given to people, other than Taylor, at the pending events."
Huish said the shipment was canceled because of Taylor's desire to comply with the court's order and never reached his home.
"Accordingly, Mr. Taylor was not in possession, even momentarily, of said items," Huish wrote. "While the Government's response is a true and fair representation of what occurred, the circumstances of the matter do not accurately report what transpired nor the purpose behind the reported shipment. Mr. Taylor was never to be the owner nor keeper of the items, they were business related, meant for others, part of a rationally related event, and items that were sponsor related.
The filing did not indicate how the DOJ learned of the shipment or whether they would request any modifications of Taylor’s release status or conditions because of it. He was next scheduled to be in court for a status conference on July 28.
Taylor is not the first Jan. 6 defendant prosecutors have accused of trying to receive weapons while on pretrial release. Last July, former Rocky Mount, Virginia, officer Thomas Robertson had his bond revoked after prosecutors presented evidence he’d purchased more than 30 firearms while on release. A jury convicted him in April of six counts, including felony counts of obstruction of an official proceeding, civil disorder and entering and remaining in a restricted building with a dangerous weapon.
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