A Capitol troublemaker may have been planning a deceptive international getaway after the January 6 siege.
Ethan Nordean, leader of the far-right white supremacist organization Proud Boys, obtained a valid US passport issued to someone who looked like him and kept it near his bed with his wife’s passport, according to new court documents.
In a pretrial detention filing for Nordean on Monday, prosecutors detailed the months-long tactical preparations that members of the Proud Boys made before the assault on the Capitol building earlier this year.
Nordean helped plan and raise funds for the group’s role in the Capitol uprising beginning Nov. 4, according to court records.
After the leader of the Proud Boys, Enrique Tarrio, was arrested in DC days before the siege, the organization nominated Nordean to assume the “final leadership” of the group’s activities on the day of the attack and granted him “powers of war, “prosecutors said.
The night before the attack, prosecutors say the Seattle-based leader instructed his fellow Proud Boys to wear dark clothing and avoid the colors typically associated with members of the extremist group.
On the day of the riots, Nordean, dressed entirely in black and wearing a tactical vest, instructed his colleagues to use encrypted communications and the military-style equipment they had acquired. He then issued specific orders: “Divide into groups, try to break into the Capitol building from as many different points as possible and prevent the Joint Session of Congress from certifying the results of the Electoral College,” prosecutors said.
The 30-year-old was arrested weeks later, on February 3, for his role in planning and participating in the deadly attacks.
But Monday’s court filings reveal new details about Nordean’s pre-siege planning and post-siege arrest.
Prosecutors allege that law enforcement officers discovered a valid US passport issued to a Northerner likeness while executing a search warrant. Federal agents reportedly found the passport in a dresser on Nordean’s bedside in the master bedroom, along with Nordean’s wife’s passport.
Officials did not find a passport for Nordean during their search.
Prosecutors described the “obvious explanation” for the dubious passport: that Nordean “at least considered traveling with the passport after he led a group of Proud Boys members in the Capitol riot, and after several of members of the Proud Boys who followed his lead were arrested by the FBI … “
Instead, Nordean offered his own explanation of the document.
The Proud Boys leader told officers that the passport belonged to his wife’s ex-boyfriend and that she had kept the document as a “souvenir” after the relationship ended. His wife allegedly took the souvenir passport with her when she moved into a new home with her husband, Nordean, and “coincidentally” kept the passport with her own passport, “on top of a dresser in [Nordean’s] side of the bed in the master bedroom “.
Prosecutors argued in the court file that the anecdote proves that Nordean represents a serious flight risk and “danger to the community” and, as such, should be detained before his trial.
“As noted above, it should [Nordean] obtain his release and acquire another such passport, it would be extremely difficult to catch him and ensure his presence for the trial, “the document said.