TAMPA, Fla. — Adam Johnson, the Florida man charged with participating in the U.S. Capitol riot and stealing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s lectern, walked out of a federal courthouse Monday after after being released on a $25,000 surety bond, wearing a GPS monitor on his ankle.
Johnson, of Parrish, made his first appearance before a federal judge Monday afternoon at the federal courthouse in Tampa.
He has been charged with one count of knowingly entering or remaining in any restricted building or grounds without lawful authority; one count of theft of government property; and one count of violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds, according to a federal complaint. A warrant was issued Friday and Johnson was charged in federal court in Washington, D.C., on Saturday.
Johnson stood quietly on the steps on the courthouse wearing a white T-shirt, shorts, flips flops and a mask — dressed as he had been in court, with the exception of the monitor newly attached to his left leg. His shoulder-length hair was loose and he was shaved, in sharp contrast to the viral image of him during last week’s riot at the Capitol.
“I don’t know how else to explain that,” said Johnson’s lead defense attorney Dan Eckart, referring to the photo. “But yeah that would be a problem. I am not a magician and neither is David, so we got a photograph of our client inside the federal building, inside the Capitol.”
Johnson remained quiet as his defense team, Eckart and David Bigney, spoke with reporters. He and his defense are cooperating with prosecutors.
“Mr Johnson is taking this very serious. He is not making not making any statements right now but maybe in the future,” Bigney said.
Johnson, 36, will have to wear a GPS ankle monitor and will have a curfew from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. each day. He was forced to surrender his passport and cannot possess any firearms.
His travel will also be restricted to the confines of the Middle District of Florida and to Washington, D.C., but only for court appearances or meetings with prosecutors or investigators.
His wife Suzanne, a physician in Palmetto, will have to co-sign the bond, according to the judge’s order but has until Thursday to do so. The couple have five sons, all under the age of 14.
Because of his criminal history involving substance abuse, U.S. Magistrate Judge Christopher Tuite also ordered that Johnson be drug tested and that he complete any drug treatment deemed necessary by pretrial services.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Patrick Scruggs told Tuite that everyone involved in the storming of the Capitol was considered to be a danger to the “community and probably to our republic, as well.” However, prosecutors didn’t think they could successfully argue that Johnson should be held in pretrial detention.
Outside the courthouse, Eckart disagreed with the characterization that Johnson was a threat.
“If he was a threat to the community or a danger, he wouldn’t be standing here with me today,” Eckart said.
Johnson, like many of those who have been identified for their alleged roles in the riot, could be indicted on more serious charges.
In court, his attorneys told the judge that Johnson, a stay-at-home dad, was needed at home to care for the children, to take them to school and to buy groceries for the family.
“He’d just like to get home to family. He’d like to spend some privacy and to spend some quality time with them,” Bigney said outside the courthouse.
Johnson was caught on camera during last week’s riot carrying a lectern taken from Pelosi’s office in the Capitol. The lectern was later found in a Capitol hallway.
Acquaintances identified Johnson as the man as the photo circulated on social media. He was arrested Friday and was being held at the Pinellas County jail before the hearing Monday.