U.P. man charged in Capitol riot will fight for bond

Robert Snell
The Detroit News

The first Michigan resident charged with a federal crime stemming from the Capitol riot pleaded not guilty to five charges Monday and will fight for bond later this week, his lawyer said.

Karl Dresch, 40, of Calumet was arraigned in front of U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson in Washington, D.C., almost two months after being indicted on five charges related to the Jan. 6 riot. The charges include obstructing an official proceeding, entering a restricted building or grounds, disorderly and disruptive conduct in a restricted building, disorderly conduct in a Capitol building and parading, demonstrating or picketing in a Capitol building.

A selfie Dresch sent to a Facebook user on Jan. 6.

Dresch's lawyer Jerry Ray Smith Jr. said he will file a bond motion by Thursday requesting that Dresch be released while awaiting trial.

“I will be asking for GPS location monitoring,” Smith told the judge.

Jackson said she wants to hear specific allegations from the government against releasing Dresch.

“Let me know if there is evidence of whether he was involved in any assaultive conduct or physically breaking into the building, or whether he was armed or used some sort of implement to attack others,” the judge said.

FBI released a photo of Karl Dresch's Calumet home in court documents Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021.

Dresch's home in the Upper Peninsula is a heavily fortified shrine to former President Donald Trump with two giant "Trump 2020" banners hung on the front of the house.

FBI agents seized a pistol, rifle and 12-gauge shotgun and more than 500 rounds of ammunition during a raid, according to documents obtained by The Detroit News.

In its complaint against Dresch, the Federal Bureau of Investigation supported its allegations of unlawful entry into the Capitol with pictures the Upper Peninsula man posted on social media as the mob stormed the building in Washington, D.C.

Among them, there was a photograph posted on Facebook with the title “We are in" that a U.S. Capitol police officer confirmed shows the inside of the U.S. Capitol Building, "specifically, the 'Crypt,' a location under the rotunda in the center of the Capitol," the filing stated.

Another appeared to show Dresch elsewhere in the crypt, near a statue of John Caldwell Calhoun, who served as vice president of the United States under presidents John Quincy Adams and Andrew Jackson.

Dresch posted this photo of the U.S. Capitol on his Facebook page on Jan. 6, according to a search warrant affidavit obtained by The Detroit News.

Dresch also found time to message other users on Facebook about the actions, federal officials allege, citing records they obtained.

“That's right outside the house of representative...we got in! Took a lil gas ...wtf I love masks now!” he allegedly wrote.

Authorities rushed to find Dresch amid a push to apprehend those among Trump's loyalists who broke into the Capitol building in a bid to stop lawmakers from confirming President-elect Joe Biden's victory in the November election.

Noting cellphone video footage showing the protester's alleged presence, the FBI received a tip Jan. 7 that Dresch had attended and posted details on his Facebook account, investigators said.

Through a search warrant, a special agent learned the Michigan man had been posting about the election certification, allegedly writing "Stop the Steal" and equating the date with historical events surrounding the Declaration of Independence.

By Jan. 3, "Dresch posted that he was preparing to go to 'DC', and was 'prepared for chemical attacks and what not,' " according to the federal filing. "He also urged others to do so (through Facebook), writing, 'NO EXCUSES! NO RETREAT! NO SURRENDER! TAKE THE STREETS! TAKE BACK OUR COUNTRY! 1/6/2021=7/4/1776'."

When the day arrived, Dresch allegedly posted a picture showing a large crowd of Trump supporters approaching the U.S. Capitol building under an overcast sky.

Facebook records determined the metadata for the photo taken in the "crypt" was shot on a Motorola phone at 2:26 p.m., minutes after lawmakers were told to evacuate as rioters swarmed, according to the court filing.

Dresch is the son of former state lawmaker Rep. Stephen Dresch, R-Hancock, according to public records. Dresch, who passed away in 2006, served in the state House of Representatives from 1990-92, when he unsuccessfully ran for Congress.

A former business and economics dean at Michigan Tech University, Stephen Dresch helped expose fraud by an investment arm of the university as he was entering the Legislature. As a legislator, he was a vocal critic of a 1993 House Fiscal Agency scandal in which $300,000 was spent for unauthorized employee bonuses and legal fees by the agency. 

In 2005, Stephen Dresch tipped off the FBI and members of Congress to explosives that were hidden in the former home of Terry Nichols, a Michigan resident convicted as an accomplice to Timothy McVeigh in the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing. 

The former lawmaker owned a firm called Forensic Intelligence International and came by the information through advocacy work with mobster Gregory Scarpa Jr., who was being held in the same prison as Nichols. 

So far, federal prosecutors have charged six people in connection with the Jan. 6 riot. 

The others are:

Anthony Robert Williams, 45, of Troy, who is free on bond. Williams is accused of breaking into the U.S. Capitol in January during a deadly siege and bragging how he "pushed back the cops."

Daniel Herendeen, 43, of Chesterfield Township and Bobby Schornak, 39, of Roseville were charged with obstructing Congress, breaking into the Capitol and disorderly conduct. They are free on bond.

Michael Joseph Foy, 30, of Wixom. Federal prosecutors said Foy on Jan. 6 struck law enforcement at least 10 times with a hockey stick that had carried a President Donald Trump flag earlier in the day. Foy, who is being held without bond, later rallied others to climb through broken windows in the U.S. Capitol, prosecutors said, citing a YouTube video and police body camera footage. 

A YouTube video shown at a federal court hearing Monday caught the moment a man authorities believe to be Michael Foy attacked police guarding an entrance to the Capitol with a hockey stick that bore a Trump flag earlier in the day.

James Allen Mels, 56, of Shelby Township. Mels posted selfies after entering the Capitol and told investigators he traveled to Washington, D.C., with 11 other "like minded Patriots" because "he believed the 2020 presidential election to have been fraudulently decided," according to a federal court filing. The sheet metal worker was released on $10,000 unsecured bond following an initial appearance in federal court in Detroit.

rsnell@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @robertsnellnews