LARGO, Fla. (WFLA) – Dressed in shorts and a Tampa Bay Bucs Super Bowl championship shirt, wearing shackles, 38-year old Paul Rae entered courtroom 10B in the Federal Courthouse in Tampa.
Rae, who lives in Largo, is facing charges in connection with the Jan. 6 riots in Washington D.C. According to assistant U.S. attorney Daniel George, Rae traveled to the U.S. Capitol as an associate of the Proud Boys.
George told the judge, the group was traveling to Washington in big numbers and wanted to blend in with the crowds. George said one of the Proud Boys broke a window at the Capitol and opened a door and that’s when Rae went inside.
Rae is now facing charges for knowingly entering or remaining in any restricted building or grounds without authorization and corrupting, obstructing, interfereing or impeding any official proceeding, specifically, the counting of the electoral votes.
Attorney Mark Rodriguez was appointed by the court to represent Rae at Wednesday’s initial appearance. Rodriguez says the charges are serious.
“They are extremely serious. The obstruction charge does carry a 20-year penalty,” said Rodriguez. “I haven’t looked at the federal guidelines as it applies to Mr. Rae in particular.”
Rodriguez believes a citizen saw his client’s image on television or the internet.
“It appears from the criminal complaint, that is on file, that it is based on video evidence,” Rodriguez said. “And apparently somebody is claiming to have identified Mr. Rae.”
In Rae’s Largo neighborhood, federal agents converged on the brick ranch early Wednesday morning, seizing evidence and taking Rae into custody. Art Darnell lives across the street.
“They were here a long time, they took out six bags of brown paper bags of evidence,” Darnell said. “He told me he had a gun of some sort, I don’t know what.”
U.S. Magistrate Amanda Sansone allowed Rae to bond out, with a number of specific terms.
- Rae must remain on home detention with an electronic monitor.
- Surrender his firearms and ammunition, his passport and must stay away from Washington D.C., except for court hearings and attorney meetings.
- Rae must also remain in the middle district of Florida, except when he gets permission from the court to travel to Sebring to see his son.
As he walked out of the federal courthouse, Rae had no comment.