Philly judge raises, but doesn’t revoke, bail for men accused of election interference

Joshua Macias and Antonio LaMotta will remain in custody until they can pay 10% of the difference. The judge again decided not to revoke bail.

Philadelphia police say they are investigating an alleged plot to attack the Pennsylvania Convention Center in Philadelphia connected to a Hummer parked nearby. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

Philadelphia police say they are investigating an alleged plot to attack the Pennsylvania Convention Center in Philadelphia connected to a Hummer parked nearby. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

A Philadelphia judge has again denied bail revocation for Joshua Macias and Antonio LaMotta, the two Virginia men who traveled to the city in early November, allegedly to interfere with the election.

Instead, Common Pleas Court Judge Crystal Bryant-Powell raised bail for both men during a hearing Friday.

Macias’ bail went up $100,000, to $850,000.

LaMotta’s bail went up $15,000, to $765,000.

  • WHYY thanks our sponsors — become a WHYY sponsor

The pair will remain in custody until they pay 10% of the difference.

“I disagree with any increase in bail, but I guess I’m happy that the judge didn’t revoke,” William J. Brennan, Macias’ attorney, said after the hearing.

LaMotta’s attorney, Lauren Wimmer, was not immediately available for comment on the judge’s decision.

In separate motions filed in Municipal Court, Assistant District Attorney Andrew Wellbrock argued that Macias, 42, and LaMotta, 62, should be jailed for violating their bail conditions while participating in the deadly siege of the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6. Media footage, he wrote, shows both men standing inside one of the building’s security perimeters — in an area where demonstrations are not permitted.

During Friday’s hearing, Brennan called the insurrection “disgraceful” but said his client was simply exercising his First Amendment right to free speech and free assembly.

“If he incited a riot, then he would most likely be charged with that, and that would be a different scenario,” said Brennan.

  • WHYY thanks our sponsors — become a WHYY sponsor

Wimmer said LaMotta didn’t commit any crimes while he was in the nation’s capital that day.

“Mr. LaMotta can’t be guilty by association,” she said.

Both defense attorneys insisted their clients never set foot inside the Capitol building.

A spokesperson for the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office declined comment on Bryant-Powell’s ruling, a departure from a lower court ruling last week that left bail unchanged for Macias and LaMotta.

Philadelphia police arrested Macias and LaMotta on Nov. 5 near the Pennsylvania Convention Center, the site of the city’s massive mail ballot-counting operation, after receiving a tip from the FBI.

LaMotta, a self-employed bodyguard, had a loaded handgun holstered to his right hip — in plain sight. He was detained after admitting to police that he didn’t have a permit to openly carry the firearm, according to testimony.

Macias, co-founder of Vets for Trump, did have a permit from Virginia to carry the loaded handgun concealed on his person. Pennsylvania, however, does not have a reciprocity agreement with Virginia, leading the bike officer who responded to the call to believe Macias was committing a crime.

Police confiscated both guns and each man’s cellphone. LaMotta also gave permission to search a silver Hummer parked nearby, according to testimony. Inside, officers found a semiautomatic rifle, ammunition, and a lockpick kit, among other items.

LaMotta will stand trial on weapons charges, as well as a trio of election-related offenses added after he was arrested.

Macias is facing only the election charges. Citing a state law, Municipal Court Judge Charles Hayden dropped the weapons charges filed against Macias.

The District Attorney’s Office has since refiled those charges. A hearing is scheduled for Feb. 8.

Get daily updates from WHYY News!

WHYY is your source for fact-based, in-depth journalism and information. As a nonprofit organization, we rely on financial support from readers like you. Please give today.

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

Together we can reach 100% of WHYY’s fiscal year goal