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George Tanios to remain in jail pending resolution of case

Bond was denied a second time for George Tanios, part-owner and operator of Sandwich University, who is accused of taking part in the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol.

Tuesday’s ruling means Tanios and his friend Julian Khater will remain in the Washington, D.C., jail for the duration of their cases. Each man is each charged with 10 felonies for their alleged actions in the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol. The hearing was a continuation of an April 27 bond hearing that ran out of time.

Senior Judge Thomas Hogan, of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, said the actions of Tanios and Khater played a role in the ultimate breach of the Capitol.

“It concerns me because these two gentlemen are law abiding, respected individuals in their community and it makes it very difficult for the court to make this conclusion,” Hogan said.

Normally, both men would be entitled to bond, he said. Khater offered to pay a bond of $15 million, secured by five properties with 16 people helping post it, as well as home confinement. Tanios requested bond with the conditions of home confinement and around-the clock video surveillance.

However, Hogan said the government’s evidence, which included videos showing Khater spraying three officers with mace, including a female officer at what Hogan described as “point blank” range, and Tanios purchasing and carrying the mace and unused bear spray in a backpack, all made it clear what transpired — there was an attack on uniformed police officers and there is “no way around it.”

While Kater did the actual spraying, Hogan said Tanios “obviously worked with him on that.” Tanios carried the backpack with the chemical sprays he bought, Khater knew the sprays were there, and took advantage of them during the assault which helped lead to the ultimate breach of the Capitol, he said.

Hogan agreed with defense attorneys neither man was part of an extremist group but said the evidence suggested the two had a plan.

Part of the government’s evidence was a video in which Khater ask for the bear spray to which Tanios tells him “hold on, hold on, not yet, not yet … It’s still early.” Federal Prosecutor Gilead Light said the conversation was only about timing and there was “no other reasonable interpretation of what that means.”

At the April 27 hearing, Tanios’ attorney Beth Gross objected to the way the government characterized that conversation and said Tanios also told Khater no. On Tuesday, she said she heard “nah, don’t do it.”

However, Hogan said despite multiple listens he was unable to hear anything of that nature. He suggested getting an expert to isolate those words for later use but said he couldn’t find that Tanios said no.

Gross argued that Tanios purchased the sprays for self-defense and the only plan he had with Khater was attending the Jan. 6 rally to support then-President Donald Trump. Tanios had a legitimate fear that things might get violent against Trump supporters as they had at previous rallies.

She said Tanios’ conversation with Khater about the use of the sprays was an argument and Tanios denied Khater the use of the bear spray — the “later” meant it was for protection later, not that it was simply too early to use it.

Hogan dismissed Gross’ argument that the sprays being legal mattered. “The argument that everything they had was legal is a red herring,” Hogan said. “And that is you can take a pocketknife, that’s legal, but you attack a police officer with it unprovoked, it’s illegal.”

A status hearing was set for June. Hogan said he didn’t want to see the case linger.

There have been around 300 complaints, warrants, information, and indictments related to the Jan. 6 riot at this point, and the court expected it would get about 100 more, Hogan said.

Tanios was arrested at his home in Morgantown on March 14.

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