Judge declines to release one of the Oregon brothers charged in U.S. Capitol takeover to parents | #College. | #Students


A federal judge on Tuesday declined to release college senior Matthew Klein, one of two Oregon brothers accused in the Jan. 6 breach of the U.S. Capitol, after finding his parents unsuitable to supervise him pending trial.

The ruling came after prosecutors submitted examples of text messages that showed Klein’s mother and father warning Matthew’s younger brother, Jonathanpeter Klein, that “braggers get caught.”

Their mother also sent texts to Jonathanpeter Klein warning him that his “phone is not encrypted,” that he should “[b]e careful what [he] say[s]” and that he should “clear [his] phone” or that he should “[p]ull a Hillary and use a hammer” and “bleach” to destroy the phone, according to court records.

Matthew Klein, 24, and Jonathanpeter Klein, 21, both have pleaded not guilty to conspiracy to defraud the United States, aiding and abetting in the obstruction of an official proceeding, obstruction of law enforcement during civil disorder, destruction of government property, entering and remaining in a restricted building or grounds and disorderly conduct in a restricted building or grounds.

Matthew Klein’s lawyer had urged his client’s release to his parents in Baker City, describing them as deeply religious Christian missionaries and very responsible people. Matthew Klein wants to continue his education at George Fox University, said defense attorney Steven R. Kiersh.

“We would like to see him get back and complete his college program, but, primarily, he would be — be required — again, without any opposition — to stay on the premises where his family members can monitor his conduct and where, quite frankly, pretrial can monitor his comings and goings,” Kiersh argued last month in a Zoom hearing before the judge based in Washington, D.C.

Matthew Klein enrolled at the Christian college in Newberg in fall 2017 and had been attending up until his arrest on March 23, according to the university. “He was a senior, but he is no longer a student at George Fox,” George Fox spokesman Rob Felton said Tuesday.

Kiersh also sought to distinguish Matthew Klein from his younger brother, telling the court that Jonathanpeter Klein is accused of being a member of the Proud Boys, not Matthew Klein.

His lawyer argued that Matthew Klein was following the direction of then-President Donald Trump after attending a rally in Washington, D.C., before marching to the Capitol and didn’t assault anyone.

“It was the President of the United States who told the crowd to go march to the United States Capitol,” Kiersch said. “This was not Matthew Klein saying do it.”

But federal prosecutor Christopher K. Veatch countered that Matthew Klein played a larger role than his brother in the Capitol breach, noting Matthew Klein helped others scale a wall on the west side of the Capitol to allow them to get inside.

After he and his brother entered the Capitol and then left the building about 10 minutes later, the two wrenched open another door on the north side of the Capitol, Veatch said.

Once they got the door open, Jonathanpeter Klein walked away but Matthew Klein put on his goggles, held out his Gadsden flag and confronted law enforcement officers before he was doused with pepper spray, Veatch said.

“Matthew Klein’s conduct was far worse than Jonathan Klein, and there’s been no attempt to try to conflate the two,” he told U.S. District Judge Randolph D. Moss.

Moss took the request under advisement until now, declining the motion to release Matthew Klein to his parents, agreeing with prosecutors who had argued they were “ill-suited” to supervise their son.

But he left open the possibility for Matthew Klein and his lawyer to find another third-party custodian who could be approved, with stringent release conditions for Matthew Klein, such as home detention and GPS monitoring.

Matthew Klein’s lawyer had submitted a half a dozen other names of people to serve as custodians but the judge noted that a federal pretrial services officer hadn’t vetted any of the people recommended.

It’s important to know where Matthew Klein will live and that his custodians will take responsibility for ensuring he follows the terms of the release, Moss wrote in the ruling.

“The difficulty for Klein right now, however, is that he has failed to identify a suitable third-party custodian,” Moss wrote.

The judge considered the nature of the allegations, the weight of the evidence — including video footage, photos and social media — and the history and characteristics of Matthew Klein.

“Klein’s alleged crimes were undoubtedly serious, and his actions posed an acute risk to the wellbeing of many innocent people. Klein and other rioters, moreover, succeeded in their efforts of using brute force to delay (if not stop) the most revered of democratic processes from proceeding,” Moss wrote. “This was not an exercise of free speech but, to the contrary, an effort to quash the collective voice of the American electorate.”

He also cited concerns about Matthew Klein’s attendance at two prior rallies in Oregon in September.

The government presented images to the court of the Klein brothers at a Sept. 7 demonstration outside Oregon’s Capitol in Salem and a Sept. 26 Proud Boy rally in Portland’s Delta Park.

Matthew Klein was charged with carrying a loaded gun in a truck that was stopped leaving the Proud Boys rally at Delta Park. He was seated in the bed of a truck with a paintball gun when arrested, according to court records. Those charges remain active — and were pending in Multnomah County when he participated in the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, the prosecutor said.

“At a minimum, for example, Klein’s prominent display of these weapons was seemingly designed to inspire fear in his political opponents — to convey a threat of violence, if not the actualization of that violence,” Moss wrote.

“The contention by Klein’s counsel that Klein carried these weapons for his own protection is difficult to square with photographic images, which depict someone who appears to be looking for, and not seeking to avoid, a fight,” the judge wrote. “But, even accepting counsel’s characterization, the Court is left to ponder what Klein would have done — and what he might do in the future — if he perceived that a political foe posed a threat to his safety.”

The Klein brothers remain in custody at Portland’s Inverness Jail.

— Maxine Bernstein

Email mbernstein@oregonian.com; 503-221-8212

Follow on Twitter @maxoregonian





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