A federal judge says so-called QAnon shaman Jacob Chansley has become a "mascot" for the conspiracy theory group — adding that if he is released from jail, his supporters could quickly raise money for him to flee.
U.S. District Judge Royce C. Lamberth made the statements in a decision ordering that Chansley, a Capitol insurrectionist who pleaded guilty earlier this month, will remain behind bars until he is sentenced.
Lamberth said although Chansley's attorney claims he has "repudiated" QAnon, he has not "personally indicated as such to this court."
"Still, regardless of any repudiation, there is no doubt that he is a mascot for the QAnon movement," Lamberth wrote in the order filed last week. "Hundreds of attendees joined Chansley's September 3, 2021 plea-agreement hearing on the public access line, and at least once this Court's proceedings were interrupted with shouts of 'Freedom!'"
Lamberth said Chansley failed to show "clear and convincing evidence" that he is not likely to flee.
"Given his high-profile status as a member (or former member) of this group, the government has alleged he is able to 'quickly raise large sums of money for travel through non-traditional sources' and has previously 'demonstrated an ability to travel long distances using untraceable methods,'" Lamberth wrote, adding that Chansley's proposed "plan" for pre-sentencing release was inadequate – in part because it cites "family ties" including his mother, who believes he "has done nothing wrong" and is "innocently sitting in a prison cell."
"The court is pleased to see the evolution in Chansley's thinking from the virulent statements he made immediately after the January 6 Capitol riot ... to his acceptance of responsibility at his plea-agreement hearing. The court hopes that Chansley's change of heart is sincere," Lamberth wrote, adding that in another Jan. 6 case, his hopes were "dashed" when the defendant – one day after being sentenced — made comments that directly conflicted her "contrite" statements to the court.
"But the court is also disappointed that Chansley's acceptance of responsibility was not more fulsome," Lamberth wrote. "Harm befell the nation as a result of Chansley's actions. Given Chansley's serious crime — and the Court's general requirement to detain pre-sentencing defendants 'as a background rule' — it would take more than a perfunctory acknowledgement of contrition to convince the court that his change of heart decreased his flight risk."