TAMPA, Fla (WFLA) — A Sarasota business owner who was arrested in connection with last month’s insurrection in Washington claims he was “duped” into joining the paramilitary Oath Keepers who allegedly helped sack the Capitol.
Graydon Young, 54, of Englewood, was ordered to be held in the Pinellas County jail by Magistrate Thomas Wilson. Wilson told the court while he did not consider Young to be a flight risk, he was concerned about the community danger presented by local Oath Keepers.
“This is just inconceivable that some group would do that,” Wilson said during the brief probable cause hearing. “If I cannot conceive of someone doing this, what else can I conceive this group doing?”
Young’s attorney, Robert Floyd, argued Young joined the Oath Keepers in December, thinking he was going to Washington “to help render aid and support those who were involved.”
“He’s being detained for being duped,” Floyd said in court.
But the government pointed to Young’s Facebook post the evening of the assault.
“We stormed and got inside,” Young allegedly wrote.
While Floyd suggested his client’s statement indicated he was “humiliated and looking to distance himself from the group,” Magistrate Wilson offered a different take.
“Yeah. We did it. Isn’t that great,” Wilson said as another possibility for the meaning of Young’s post.
Young deleted all of his Facebook posts back to March 2019 the day after the insurrection and deleted his entire account on Jan. 8, according to the complaint.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Daniel George argued that post and Young’s decision to share an Oath Keepers recruitment email the day before the violence showed his role was bigger than he will admit.
“It’s simply not possible to say he had a limited role,” George said.
The criminal complaint against Young included an email that stated the group would be “well-armed” and ready for “a worst-case scenario, where the President calls us up as part of the militia to to (sic) assist him inside D.C.”
Young, an Army and Navy Reserve veteran, asked to join the group’s Florida chapter on Dec. 3, according court documents.
Young is pictured wearing a tactical military helmet and vest in the Capitol rotunda in an image attached to the complaint that also shows his sister Laura Steele, of North Carolina, who has also been indicted.
In her Oath Keepers application, Steele stated she had 13 years of law enforcement experience that including work as “a K-9 Officer and SWAT team member.”
Husband and wife Oath Keepers, 52-year-old Kelly Meggs and 59-year-old Connie Meggs of Dunnellon, were also ordered held Monday by a federal judge.
In the complaint, Kelly Meggs is said to be Young’s “team leader.”
A picture in the complaint shows what are purported to be the Meggs, Young and Steele “shortly after they breached and damaged the doors to the Capitol.”
During Monday’s hearing, Floyd told the court Young was one of many in a military movement known as a “stack,” and the doors may have already been open, suggesting his client did not play a role in damaging the federal property.
Floyd would not comment on the case after the hearing.
In another case related to the insurrection, 38-year-old Paul Allard Hodgkins of Tampa, was arrested Tuesday in the Middle District of Florida jurisdiction on three federal charges out of Washington, D.C., including violent entry and disorderly conduct on capitol grounds.
Court documents indicate Hodgkins was released on $25,000 unsecured bond, surrendered his firearms and passport and agreed to a 1:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. curfew.
A Zoom conference is scheduled for Wednesday in Hodgkins’ case.