Anti-mask Capitol rioter to be released despite new gun charges
Benjamin Martin at the Capitol (Department of Justice)

An anti-mask activist and accused Capitol insurrectionist is expected to be released from jail this week despite new gun charges against him — stemming from weapons FBI agents found when they arrested him earlier this month.

Benjamin Martin, a real-estate agent from Fresno, Calif., faces six felony and misdemeanor charges in connection with the Jan. 6 riot. When FBI agents arrested him at his home on Sept. 2, they found a safe containing four rifles, two shotguns, a pistol, and an assault rifle, according to a report from the local ABC affiliate. Martin is not allowed to possess weapons due to a 2018 domestic violence conviction, as well as a 2020 restraining order protecting his sister.

However, Magistrate Judge Erica P Grosjean on Wednesday agreed to release Martin from the Fresno County Jail, and he is expected to be out by Friday, according to his attorney, Roger Nuttall.

Nuttall told the Fresno Bee that Martin "is adamant that he did not break the law in either case."

"He denies any criminal or civil liability," Nuttall said. "There was no violence alleged at all. At best he was there protesting. He has been very interested in the Trump momentum."

Martin claims the weapons found by the FBI belong to his father-in-law, according to ABC 30, but investigators also found his birth certificate and passport in the safe. Martin told investigators that during the insurrection, he got between officers and the crowd and was trying to calm everyone down.

"Federal prosecutors have an image of Ben Martin as someone with a violent history who's escalating and lashing out not just at his inner circle, but publicly," the station reported. "Video showed him yelling at officers to let them in the Capitol, clashing with officers at the door, and walking inside through the hallway."

Martin has gotten "a lot of attention in the Valley for his anti-mask protests outside grocery stores, including Sprouts, which now has a restraining order against him," according to ABC 30.

Back in April, Martin made headlines when he aggressively confronted a city council member about coronavirus restrictions at a local brewery.

Grosjean, the magistrate, ordered Martin to be released on the condition that he provides a $200,000 property bond, which is expected to come from his fiancee's home.

"The process could take several weeks, so in the interim, the judge allowed Martin to put up $15,000 in cash and surrender his passport, allowing him to get out of jail sooner," the Fresno Bee reported. "Federal prosecutors consider Martin a flight risk."

Martin faces a new federal charge of being a prohibited person in possession of a firearm, which carries up to 10 years in prison.

In the Capitol riot case, he is charged with entering and remaining in a restricted building or grounds; disorderly and disruptive conduct in a restricted building or grounds; disorderly conduct in the Capitol building; parading; demonstrating or picketing in the Capitol building; obstructing law enforcement during civil disorder and obstructing or impeding an official proceeding.

Watch ABC 30's report below.