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Capitol riot suspect who worked on Naval base loses another bid for freedom

Proud Boys organizer Joseph Randall Biggs, 37, second from left front, was spotted among a crowd of protesters who later stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6. (Image from FBI affidavit/TNS)

The Monmouth County man who worked at a U.S. Navy base when charged with participating in the assault on the U.S. Capitol has lost a second attempt to be released from jail while awaiting trial.

Timothy Hale-Cusanelli, 31, of Colts Neck, will remain in federal custody in a Washington, D.C. jail as his case proceeds, a federal judge ruled Wednesday, denying a motion from his lawyer to have him released to New Jersey. He’s been indicted on seven crimes related to the Jan. 6 riot.

This is the second time Hale-Cusanelli has sought to be released from pre-trial detention, and each time federal prosecutors have effectively argued he remains an ongoing danger to the community.

The government has described Hale-Cusanelli, who is also a member of the U.S. Army Reserves, as a white supremacist who has worn his mustache like Hitler and who wishes for a civil war in the country.

In legal briefs for this hearing, prosecutors reiterated their beliefs that if freed, Hale-Cusanelli is a threat, specifically to the predominantly Hasidic Jewish community in Lakewood, not far from his home. (Hale-Cusanelli grew up in the Howell area and was living in housing on Naval Weapons Station Earle in Colts Neck, where he worked.)

“Beyond his desired participation in a future civil war, [Hale-Cusanelli] poses a more localized threat to the community, particularly the Hasidic community in Lakewood, New Jersey. [Hale-Cusanelli] has demonstrated specific animosity towards the Jewish population and expressed a desire to commit violence against Jewish people,” a prosecutor wrote.

Hale-Cusanelli’s lawyer has repeatedly countered that his client is accused of no specific violence on Jan. 6, to which he wore a suit and tie, and has a support system ready for him in New Jersey and would comply with any restriction the court or prosecutors desire.

“The government’s arguments for dangerousness rely almost singularly on defendant’s alleged rhetoric that the government interprets as [Hale-Cusanelli] being a white supremacist, antisemitic and a racist. While [Hale-Cusanelli’s] alleged ideology may be repugnant or outside acceptable and polite society, we do not incarcerate people in this country on words alone,” his lawyer argued in his brief.

As for the Lakewood argument, Hale-Cusanelli’s lawyer, Jonathan Zucker, wrote that prosecutors suggest that he’s been “out in the streets terrorizing members of this community.”

Not true, Zucker said.

“While [Hale-Cusanelli] may have made inappropriate remarks in private conversations and expressed disagreement with their religious ideology, the government points to no acts by [Hale-Cusanelli] that endangered members of this community,” Zucker argued.

“The government conflates disagreement with dangerousness,” Zucker wrote.

Zucker sought the latest effort following a federal appeal in another case, now known as the Munchel decision, which basically split Capitol suspects into two categories, ones who committed specific acts of violence, and those who rushed into the Capitol afterwards. Many in the latter category have since been released to some form of house arrest.

The judge in Hale-Cusanelli’s case, Judge Trevor N. McFadden, said Wednesday that he remains too dangerous to release due to possible future acts, not what he’s alleged to have done on Jan. 6, according to a CNN reporter who heard the virtual hearing.

“I was concerned, and remain concerned, that the defendant bears animus toward groups of people in this country….his conduct in this case made me concerned that he was perhaps looking to act on these violent tendencies,” McFadden said, CNN’s Marshall Cohen reported. “If I was just looking at what the defendant did on January 6, he would be a free man right now,” the judge said, noting the Munchel case.

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