A suspected member of a Southern California white nationalist group that incited brawls at political rallies last year was denied bail for a second time Tuesday after a judge found that the Anza resident is a danger to the community.
Aaron Eason, 38, was among four men indicted in Los Angeles for allegedly inciting violence against counter-protesters, journalists and others at rallies throughout the state, including 2017 events in Huntington Beach, Berkeley and San Bernardino.
Eason's lawyer, John McNicholas, denied that his client has ties to the so-called Rise Above Movement. The attorney told the court that although the Riverside County resident was captured on video fighting at the Berkeley rally, he had actually attended the April 2017 event to provide security for supporters of President Donald Trump and fought to protect himself from an unprovoked attack by a member of the Antifa movement.
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The government's contention that Eason should remain in custody pending trial because he is a member of a violent, racist organization is merely "a huge attempt to inflame the court," McNicholas said.
Assistant U.S. Attorney David Ryan countered that emails sent by Eason show he was closely associated with RAM and that he participated in hand-to-hand combat training with the group at a park in San Clemente in preparation for the rallies.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Rozella Oliver denied Eason bail earlier this month on grounds that he was a danger to the community and affirmed that ruling Tuesday, despite hearing from a friend of Eason's who testified that she knew the defendant as non-violent, responsible and hard-working.
McNicholas indicated he would file motions to dismiss and to separate Eason's case from that of his co-defendants.
One of the four Southern California defendants -- Tyler Laube, 22, of Redondo Beach -- pleaded guilty last week to conspiring to violate the federal riots act. In a plea agreement, Laube admitted to being associated with RAM, attending the "combat-training event" and assaulting counter-protesters and others at a "Make America Great Again" rally in Huntington Beach in March 2017.
Eason, Laube and co-defendants Robert Rundo, 28, of Huntington Beach, and Robert Boman, 25, of Torrance, were indicted on one count each of conspiracy to violate the federal riots act. Additionally, Rundo, Boman and
Eason were charged with violating the riots statute. Each of the two counts carry sentences of up to five years in federal prison, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.
Last month, federal authorities arrested four other suspected RAM members, including alleged RAM founder Ben Daley, 25, of Redondo Beach. He and three other men were charged for their suspected roles in last year's deadly far-right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.
Daley, Thomas Walter Gillen, 24, also of Redondo Beach, Michael Paul Miselis, 29, of Lawndale, and Cole Evan White, 24, of Clayton, California, are awaiting trial in Virginia.