By KEN RITTER Associated Press
LAS VEGAS (AP) — Federal prosecutors in Washington, D.C., have amended criminal charges against a Tennessee man and a Nevada resident who were arrested in Las Vegas in January and accused of violence at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6.
Nathaniel DeGrave of Las Vegas, pleaded not guilty Monday to the revised charges, and Ronald Sandlin, who lives near Memphis, pleaded not guilty Sept. 21, court records showed.
“Sandlin and DeGrave planned to interfere with the peaceful transition of presidential power, beginning in December 2020,” the Justice Department said in a news release describing the court developments.
U.S. District Judge Dabney Friedrich arraigned both men on crimes that could put them in prison for decades. They remain in federal custody pending a court date Oct. 21.
Attorney John Pierce, representing DeGrave, declined comment on Tuesday. Attorney Jerry Ray Smith Jr., representing Sandlin, did not immediately respond to messages.
DeGrave, 34, and Sandlin, 32, were initially charged in January and arrested Jan. 28 in Las Vegas. The amended indictment, filed Sept. 15, added specificity to allegations against them.
Both men now face 12 counts including obstruction of an official proceeding; assaulting, resisting or impeding Capitol police officers; civil disorder; and entering and remaining in a restricted building or grounds.
Other charges were dropped, including physical violence in the Capitol grounds or buildings; disorderly conduct in a Capitol building; impeding passage; and parading, demonstrating or picketing in a Capitol building.
The court filing refers to six Capitol police officers, using their initials, as victims of actions by Sandlin and DeGrave.
It said the officers were among 139 Capitol and Washington, D.C., police members assaulted during rioting that disrupted the certification by Congress of the November 2020 electoral victory of now-President Joe Biden, a Democrat, over then-President Donald Trump, a Republican.
The document also refers to accounts provided to investigators and prosecutors by Josiah Colt, an Idaho man who pleaded guilty in July to one felony charge of obstructing an official proceeding. Colt, 34, has not yet been sentenced. He is expected to face about five years in prison.
Colt acknowledged traveling to the Capitol with Sandlin and DeGrave, bringing weapons and other tactical equipment, and obstructing the certification of the vote. In exchange for his guilty plea and cooperation in other cases, prosecutors agreed to drop three other felony charges against him.
Prosecutors allege Sandlin, DeGrave and Colt began conspiring in December on Facebook to travel to Washington to, in Sandlin’s words, “stop the steal and stand behind Trump when he decides to cross the rubicon.” An internet post contained a link to a GoFundMe webpage with the caption “Patriots Defending Our Country on Jan. 6th, organized by Ronnie Sandlin.”
The crossing by Julius Caesar of the Rubicon River in 49 B.C. is considered the start of the Roman Civil War. It is a metaphor for passing a point of no return.
On the day of the violence, Sandlin, DeGrave and Colt allegedly met in a hotel room in Maryland and recorded social media video in which Colt mused about whether they should carry guns. They didn’t, but the government alleges they went to the Capitol with knives, walkie-talkies and protective gear including gas masks, helmets and protective body armor.
DeGrave was accused of pushing officers guarding the Capitol Rotunda. Prosecutors alleged he recorded a video in which he declared: “This is what separates us true patriots from everyone else who is all talk … we out here taking action.”
Sandlin was allegedly seen on video fighting with police and apparently smoking marijuana inside the Rotunda.
The three men allegedly reached a gallery balcony overlooking the Senate chamber, where Colt climbed down and sat in a chair reserved for the vice president while DeGrave allegedly shouted for people to “take laptops, paperwork, take everything.”
In the eight months since Jan. 6, prosecutors said more than 600 people have been arrested in nearly all U.S. states and accused of crimes related to the Capitol breach, including 185 people charged with assaulting or impeding law enforcers.
Five people died, including a Trump supporter who was shot and killed by police as she tried to break into a lobby off the House chamber. Several police officers later took their own lives.