Brown supporter faces 125 years
September 26, 2007, 12:11 pm
Filed under: 2nd Amendment, Ed Brown, Gun Control, Income Tax, Police State, Reno, Ruby Ridge, Waco

Brown supporter faces 125 years

Margot Sanger-Katz
Concord Monitor
September 24, 2007

Jason Gerhard, one of four supporters of Ed and Elaine Brown arrested last week, faces a maximum sentence of more than 125 years if he is convicted on all charges.

Gerhard, 22, of Brookhaven, N.Y., was arraigned yesterday on an updated indictment that charges him with nine federal felonies.

The recent Army recruit, who was arrested at basic training in Missouri, chose not to enter pleas during his hearing yesterday at the New Hampshire District Court. Magistrate James Muirhead entered not guilty pleas on his behalf.

Cirino Gonzalez, 30, of Alice, Texas, the Browns’ former blogger and security guard and an alleged co-conspirator with Gerhard, also appeared in court today. He pleaded not guilty to four felonies.

Gerhard was one of several supporters who spent time living at the home of Ed and Elaine Brown, a retired exterminator and dentist who were convicted of multiple tax-related crimes in January. The Browns have been holed up in their fortified concrete home for nearly eight months, refusing to surrender and threatening violence if marshals try to arrest them.

According to his indictment, Gerhard purchased his first gun for the couple in January, about a week after Ed Brown walked out on his federal trial and announced that his home might become “another Waco.” Between January and August, he purchased a total of six weapons, the indictment says, including a high-powered .50-caliber sniper rifle, which shoots bullets capable of piercing body armor. The indictment says Gerhard lived with the Browns for several months.

During that time, Gerhard was a relatively quiet member of the Brown entourage, frequent visitors to the house said. Gerhard had one brush with local law enforcement this summer came after he hit the car of a teenage girl while shopping for the Browns in their SUV. Ed Brown described the accident as a “fender bender,” but the girl’s mother said that her daughter’s car had been totaled and that Gerhard had tried to flee the scene. Marshals impounded the Browns’ vehicle after the accident.

When marshals searched the home of Gerhard’s mother on Long Island last week, they found a pipe bomb and other weapons, according to the local police. He has not been charged with any crimes related to that finding.

Gerhard is charged with six counts of carrying and possessing a firearm in connection with a crime of violence, two counts of conspiring to hinder authorities, and one count of accessory after the fact. The weapons charges carry a mandatory minimum sentence of 25 years for each count after the first.

A prosecutor said yesterday that he believed Gerhard was likely to flee, was a danger to his community and was likely to obstruct justice if he was released from federal custody. A hearing to decide whether he will be released is scheduled for Tuesday.

The court has unsealed detailed affidavits summarizing federal marshals’ evidence in three of the four cases, but an affidavit describing Gerhard’s alleged actions has not yet been made public. The new indictment was dated Wednesday.

Gonzalez, a former military contractor, was the public face of the Browns’ home for several months this summer when he lived at the house and posted frequent updates on their status online. Gonzalez appeared in online photos and videos, many of which showed him armed. He also posted long, rambling accounts of goings-on at the house and his evolving political views.

He was charged with conspiracy, accessory after the fact, and one count of carrying and possessing a firearm in connection with a crime of violence.

The indictment alleges that he purchased the .50-caliber rifle in April. In a blog post a few days later, Gonzalez bragged about owning the gun.

“I get sad knowing not everyone has one,” he wrote on his MySpace page. “Then I think about everyone . . . that is not even close to being ready.”

Gonzalez’s hearing was brief. He pleaded not guilty and will remain in federal custody. A judge in Texas already ruled that Gonzalez should remain held until trial. According to Magistrate B. Janice Ellington’s ruling, Gonzalez is “both a flight risk and a danger to the community.”

“The defendant resisted attempts by the Marshal to arrest him at a residence where numerous firearms, including assault weapons, were present,” the ruling said. “During the arrest, defendant attempted to gain access to those weapons.”

Gonzalez’s father, Jose Gonzalez, said in an interview that it was not surprising that his son appeared to resist arrest, because he was sleeping and startled when marshals arrived about noon last Wednesday.

According to the Alice Echo-News Journal and a blog post made by Gonzalez’s friend Donna Van Meter, Gonzalez’s custody hearing in Texas included rumors of a possible escape plot and an outburst by Jose Gonzalez, who was escorted from the courtroom.

Both men are scheduled for trial in November.

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