Carlisle Proud Boy member targeted by search warrant linked to January 6 conspiracy | PA power and politics

Federal investigators have obtained a search warrant for a central Pennsylvania man who they believe may have evidence documenting how a far-right group planned to block Congress from certifying Joe Biden’s presidential victory on 6 January 2021.

A Justice Department court filing, released Tuesday, shows federal prosecutors obtained a search warrant for an unnamed individual living in Carlisle who is believed to be a “higher-level” member of the Proud Boys, an all-male group whose members have a record of using violence and threatening violence in support of former President Donald Trump and public protests organized by conservative activists.

The document was filed as part of the government’s request lawsuit against Henry “Enrique” Tarrio, the former leader of the group who was arrested on Tuesday and charged with conspiracy and obstructing official process, among other charges. He also revealed that two search warrants have been sought in connection – one for a resident of Carlisle, Pennsylvania, and a second for a man from North Carolina.

The government believes the Carlisle resident, referred to only as ‘Person 3’, contributed to a ‘crypto message group’ where Tarrio and other members discussed ways to interfere with the January 6 certification of the victory of Biden in the November 2020 election.

Person 3 is a proud boy who uses the pseudonym “Johnny Blackbeard”, LNP was able to confirm | Lancaster Online. Information found online shows the alias belongs to John Charles Stewart, a Carlisle resident who was first identified as a member of the Harrisburg Proud Boys chapter. in a data leak last summer from the Epik web hosting platform.

LNP was able to connect Blackbeard to Stewart in several ways. First, former Lehigh Valley Proud Boys vice president Richard Schwetz told LNP on Friday that Johnny Blackbeard was the Carlisle Proud Boy who was the subject of the federal search warrant.

He declined to give Blackbeard’s real name, although he said he had known him “for years”.

Separately, LNP reviewed a Telegram channel used by Proud Boys members and discovered a December 24, 2020 post by someone using the name Johnny Blackbeard. In the message, he wrote that he was in the hospital for complications from a hernia and provided a link to a GiveSendGo fundraising page.

This page was created by a woman named Daniele Stewart, and she wrote that the money raised would be used to pay her husband John’s medical bills. Records show Daniele is married to John Charles Stewart, and the fundraising page she created has recorded donations from several Proud Boys members.

According to members of Proud Boys who spoke with LNP, Stewart was not in Washington, DC on January 6.

Conspiracy investigation

The government may believe that Person 3, alias Stewart, has records that could help prove the alleged conspiracy involving Tarrio and others.

In the weeks leading up to January 6, the government alleges that Tarrio and other Proud Boy executives used an encrypted messaging service to create a chat group titled “Ministry of Self-Defense” and used it to assembling their plans to block congressional certification of Biden. win in the Electoral College.

Tarrio said Person 3 was in charge of the “operations” section of the Jan. 6 plan, alongside Philadelphia Proud Boy Section President Zach Rehl, a defendant named in the indictment.

Investigators say that “as efforts to plan for Jan. 6 intensified,” Person 3 sent a voicemail on Jan. 3 recommending that the Proud Boys focus their efforts on the U.S. House of Representatives, where the Congress would meet in joint session to certify the election. results.

“So we can skip the rest of these steps and all that (expletive) and plan operations around the main entrance to the Capitol building,” Person 3 wrote, seemingly dismissing the importance of other rallies and speeches planned this that day. . Tarrio replied to the message saying “you want to storm the Capitol”.

Asher Meza, an associate of Tarrio and a member of the Miami Proud Boys chapter, said he participated in the “Department of Self-Defense” chat referenced in the Justice Department’s indictment; he described Blackbeard as a chat administrator.

Meza said Blackbeard was not in Washington, DC on January 6 because he was in the hospital for a medical condition. Schwetz said the same thing.

“I’m 100% sure he wasn’t there,” Schwetz said, though he declined to comment on how certain he was. “He was nowhere on January 6.”

Meza also said that Blackbeard removed him from the “Ministry” chat, which is consistent with the federal investigator’s allegation that Person 3, fearing the encrypted chat might be compromised, “removed everything world of the group (of the first ministry of self-defense)”.

Search warrants

It is unclear whether investigators executed the search warrant for Stewart. However, the news agency Raw story reported the warrant for the North Carolina man, Jeremy Bertino, was executed on Tuesday.

On the same day, around 6 to 10 cars were seen outside Stewart’s Carlisle home, according to a person who saw them and requested anonymity.

The Justice Department did not respond to a request for comment.

A phone number for John Stewart could not be located. Reached by phone on Saturday, Daniele Stewart said her husband was unavailable, then hung up.

Schwetz and Meza both argue that the Proud Boys are a fraternal club and that the feds are taking the statements out of context to make it seem like the members planned in advance to storm the Capitol.

“Every Proud Boy was shocked to see what happened, not that they were against it, but to think the Proud Boys could organize this? We are a drinking club, we are a brotherhood, we are not a militia,” Meza said. “We went to DC on January 6 to fight antifa. Same reason as November and December: be there if antifa started attacking conservatives, step in and fight back. »

Meza said that on January 6, he provided security for a group called Latinos for Trump. He said he was subpoenaed by the House Select Committee investigating on January 6 and was due to give evidence next week.

So far, no Proud Boys have been put on trial for their role in January 6th.

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