TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – A retired Green Beret charged in connection with the Jan. 6 insurrection said he was asked to infiltrate the Oath Keepers organization about a month before the siege.
The violent riot of the U.S. Capitol that stalled the certification of the presidential election ended with five deaths connected to the incident, roughly 150 injured and more than 635 arrested, including 69 Floridians so far. Florida has the highest number of residents arrested in the ongoing investigation.
Prosecutors say 47-year-old Jeremy Michael Brown of Tampa, said he was behind the door of his home when two FBI agents came in early December looking for him.
Brown said on Dec. 9, he met with agents in a Centro Ybor courtyard in Ybor City.
“Within 38 seconds of walking up to them, they made mention of me working with them,” Brown said. “To see how interested I might be in working as a confidential informant against groups I may be involved with. I believe they already knew something was going to happen [on January 6.]”
The FBI declined a request to comment on Brown’s claims.
Brown said he was one of about 20 members of the Florida chapter of the Oath Keepers asked to provide security for speakers at the “Stop the Steal” rally that preceded the violence.
“We weren’t even anywhere close to the capitol when we found out the capitol got breached,” Brown said. “So, the idea the Oath Keepers organized some sort of conspiracy? We were there for security and some of them made the mistake of getting caught up in the moment.”
Federal prosecutors have alleged otherwise in several cases involving members of the Oath Keepers and Proud Boys. More than 30 defendants in the insurrection case are affiliated with the groups.
Brown is charged with knowingly entering restricted grounds and engaging in disorderly or disruptive conduct. He also faces a felony firearms charge after agents allege two illegal guns and two live, hand grenades were confiscated from Brown’s home.
Brown criticized the show of force when agents executed a search warrant.
“50 agents for five hours and they miraculously found things that they could charge me with felonies,” Brown said. “They said I was a flight risk? They found me at home. I’m not a flight risk.”
U.S. District Judge Sean Flynn ordered Brown to be detained, citing what he said was a “threat to law enforcement” in a note written by Brown.
At the bottom of the page, officers were told “to bring a bigger tactical package” if they returned.
Brown said he wrote the note as a sarcastic, verbal jab with no intent of actually assaulting law enforcement.
Brown, a two-time Bronze Star recipient who served in Iran and Afghanistan and was featured on an Army Special Forces recruiting poster when he was 28, said he will fight the charges.
“I’m not taking any plea deals,” Brown said. “My purpose is to bring attention to the fact that the FBI tried to infiltrate a law-abiding group of American citizens.”
Brown commended the corrections officers in the Pinellas County jail as treating him fairly, and said the military sent him on far worse assignments.
But he was critical of his and other arrests for the insurrection.
“You arrest the guilty parties. You charge them. You don’t just round up hundreds of people on trespassing charges,” Brown said. “There are political factors at play here and those that refuse to recognize them are never going to grasp the entire big picture and that’s why I’m taking my case to trial.”
There are no hearings currently scheduled in Brown’s case. In other insurrection cases involving Tampa Bay area residents, defendants have been held temporarily in local jails before being transferred to federal facilities closer to the Washington D.C. U.S. Attorney’s Office, which is prosecuting the cases.