Jan. 6 Defendant Says FBI Tried to Recruit Him to Spy on Oath Keepers

Jan. 6 Defendant Says FBI Tried to Recruit Him to Spy on Oath Keepers
Oath Keepers member Jeremy Brown, a retired U.S. Army Green Beret, dressed in tactical gear at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. (U.S. Department of Justice)
Joseph M. Hanneman

A retired U.S. Army Green Beret arrested for being at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, says the FBI tried to recruit him to spy on the Oath Keepers group a few weeks before the violence at the Capitol.

Jeremy M. Brown, 47, who is being held in the Pinellas County Jail in Florida on federal misdemeanor charges related to Jan. 6, told The Epoch Times he believes his arrest and prosecution are payback for his refusal to become a confidential informant.

Brown said he went to the “Stop the Steal” rally on Jan. 6 dressed in tactical gear to provide security for event organizers and for VIPs who spoke at the rally.

He said FBI agents from the Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF) met with him in late 2020 and asked him to become an informant.

“On Dec. 11, 2020, the exact same Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF) agents that (later) arrested me attempted to recruit me as a confidential informant,” Brown said in a letter to The Epoch Times from the Pinellas County Jail. “Their ‘pitch’ was intended to gauge my interest in infiltrating law-abiding citizen groups that had no criminal history and certainly were not designated ‘terrorist groups.’”

Jeremy Brown shown on police bodycam footage being told to back away from police lines at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. (U.S. Department of Justice)
Jeremy Brown shown on police bodycam footage being told to back away from police lines at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. (U.S. Department of Justice)

The Oath Keepers is an association of former military, police, and first responders whose mission includes defending the U.S. Constitution and protecting constitutional rights. They are often described as a right-wing militia or an anti-government paramilitary organization, labels the group rejects.

Brown joined the Oath Keepers within a week of the November 2020 presidential election. “I joined the Oath Keepers to help them on their path to doing their mission, which is to build an organization that has a community outreach to not only law enforcement and military, but also to citizens,” Brown said on a March 2021 podcast.

Brown said he recorded the FBI meeting for his own protection. He told the agents he wasn’t interested in being an informant. “Of course I declined to pursue any offer from the agents and went on my way,” he said.

Less than a week before he met with the FBI agents, Brown received a visit at his home by two agents who inquired about some things Brown posted on the social media site Parler. Brown later began an email correspondence with an FBI agent in Tampa and was asked to a meeting.

Brown said he met with two agents on Dec. 11 in a restaurant in Ybor City, Fla., and recorded the interaction. Within less than a minute of the start of the meeting, one of the agents made an offhand reference to Brown possibly working with JTTF again. Later in the meeting, they made the pitch to him to be a confidential informant.

The audio from the meeting can be heard on a 2 hour 4 minute video of a podcast interview Brown did with Brandon Gray of JustAnotherChannel.com, posted on a web site Brown set up for his legal defense.
On March 4, 2021, Brown was a guest on the podcast to disclose the FBI’s recruitment attempt asking him to spy on the Oath Keepers.

FBI Recruitment Effort

“In the days and weeks that followed the events of Jan. 6th, I was disgusted and appalled at the blatant lies that were coming from the media, politicians and the Department of Justice,” Brown said.

“I went public to counter the false narrative and expose the truth to the American people,” he said. “I know I was making myself a target of the FBI, but I swore an oath to the U.S. Constitution, so the choice to speak out was an easy one.”

Brown said people kept posting links to his interview on the Facebook page of the FBI’s Tampa field office.

“So they were well aware that their failed CI [confidential informant] recruit was now an outspoken ‘whistleblower’ exposing the FBI’s actions prior to Jan 6th,” Brown said.

William Miller, a spokesman for the U.S. Department of Justice in Washington D.C., declined comment on Brown’s assertions. “Following our usual practice, we are not commenting on cases beyond what is submitted or stated to the court,” Miller said in an email.

Jeremy Brown dressed in tactical gear at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. Brown provided security at the Stop the Steal Rally. (JeremyBrownDefense.com)
Jeremy Brown dressed in tactical gear at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. Brown provided security at the Stop the Steal Rally. (JeremyBrownDefense.com)

In June, reporting by the news site Revolver.news raised the possibility that FBI informants were embedded in the crowds at the Capitol on Jan. 6. This stirred public interest in Brown’s March podcast interview, he said, resulting in a flurry of media interviews.

“I spoke the truth about my firsthand account and gave my professional opinions based on 20 years of special operations experience,” Brown wrote, “some of which was working with the JTTF and other similar agencies on foreign soil.

“This clearly got the attention of the FBI and almost immediately, friends of mine began being contacted by the FBI, some of whom were questioned and threatened with being charged with crimes,” Brown wrote. “They wanted details about Jeremy Brown. My own sister was personally contacted on her new cell phone number by the very agent that was in the recorded recruitment meeting.”

The agent told Brown’s sister that “the FBI/DHS (Department of Homeland Security) was ‘concerned’ I had been ‘radicalized’ and that I may be ‘suicidal,” Brown said. This was particularly upsetting, because the siblings lost a brother to suicide in late 2018, he said.

“When my sister told me this, I attempted to contact this agent via his official government email multiple times in hopes of addressing his concerns, but I received no response,” Brown said.

FBI Raid and Arrest

On Sept. 30, Brown’s 47th birthday, he received a call from the FBI agent who contacted his sister. The agent left a voicemail using a “fake ‘hey buddy’ tone,” saying he was aware that Brown and his girlfriend had plans to move “and just wanted to see how I was doing,” Brown said.

“Of course I did not return the call, but I did send the voicemail recording to numerous friends and warned them that ‘they’ were probably coming to get me soon,” Brown wrote to The Epoch Times. “Later that afternoon at approximately 4 p.m. they came, right before we were leaving to donate clothes and housewares to the Salvation Army.”

As many as 40 agents from the FBI, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), and local law enforcement descended on Brown’s property in 15-20 vehicles, he said.

“Without ever reading me my rights, they handcuffed me and put me in their unmarked SUV,” Brown said. “Along with the misdemeanor arrest warrant, the ATF was there with a search warrant for our property and RV.

“Clearly, when you are accused of being in a ‘restricted area’ [at the Capitol] nearly 1,000 miles away 9 months prior, the ATF needs to show up to conduct a search,” Brown said. “Despite requesting multiple times to see any of the warrants I should have been served with, they repeatedly refused to show any of them, claiming they were ‘too many pages.’

“When asked by me and my girlfriend to produce the warrants at the time of arrest, they refused to produce them,” Brown said. “One agent was even recorded stating, ‘We don’t know what we are looking for yet.’ They should look for a copy of the Constitution and read it.”

Jeremy Brown served in the U.S. Army from 1992 through 2012 and became a special forces master sergeant. (JeremyBrownDefense.com)
Jeremy Brown served in the U.S. Army from 1992 through 2012 and became a special forces master sergeant. (JeremyBrownDefense.com)

Brown said he was “whisked away” by the same two FBI agents who tried to recruit him in December 2020 and at the time told him he was a “zero out of 10” concern to the FBI.

Federal agents spent more than five hours at Brown’s property. They seized items, a summary of which fit on one typed page, he said.

“On that list were legal weapons that belonged to my girlfriend and were just recently purchased, legal ammo and military gear and manuals that were never even in D.C.,” he said. “Most disturbing of all was they seized my 5x8 foot American flag that I flew regularly behind our RV.”

Agents also found a short-barrel rifle, sawed-off shotgun, 8,000 rounds of ammunition and two hand grenades, prosecutors said. Brown was charged in a separate federal case for possessing some of the items seized by federal agents.

Brown had also posted a warning sign to federal agents at his home that read: “You are being used as a pawn by enemies of this Republic” and if they return, “bring a bigger tactical package,” prosecutors said during Brown’s initial court appearance in October 2021. Brown said the sign was nothing more than a jab at the agents who visited him in December 2020.

Brown said he believes his prosecution is meant to frighten and silence anyone who challenges the prevailing narrative on Jan. 6.

‘Illegal Acts’ by FBI and DOJ

“All of these illegal acts by the FBI and DOJ are meant to silence me and keep me from exposing their lies and corruption,” Brown wrote. “Their fake charges and overzealous arrest was meant to intimidate not only me, but also the American people.”

Brown served in the U.S. Army from 1992 to 2012, earning the rank of special forces master sergeant serving in the famed Green Berets. He served with the 1st Ranger Battalion, three special forces groups (1st, 7th, and 5th) and Special Operations Command-Central.

In 2020, Brown ran for the U.S. House of Representatives to represent Florida’s 14th Congressional District, but withdrew from the race before the August Republican primary.

Brown said while he was at the Stop the Steal rally, standing near the stage where President Trump was to speak, he received a call from the FBI.

“I explained where I was and what I was doing, so on January 6th, 2021, they were well aware of my location and purpose for being there,” Brown said.

“On Jan. 7, I texted that same agent with a video of the murder of unarmed female Air Force veteran Ashli Babbitt by a Capitol police officer and told him, ‘Here is a contact report for you!’ ” Brown said. “He acknowledged watching the video with a ‘wow.’ ”

That was the last contact Brown had with the FBI until he was arrested, he said.

Federal prosecutors charged Brown with knowingly entering or remaining in a restricted federal building, and being disorderly in attempting to impede or interrupt official government business.

Both charges are misdemeanors.

A federal judge ordered Brown held without bond pending his trial.

Police Bodycam Footage

Brown was turned into the FBI by someone identified in charging documents as “Witness 1,” who provided social media photos of Brown at the U.S. Capitol, dressed in tactical gear.

Another photo of Brown was taken on the east side of the Capitol, “more than 100 feet within the restricted grounds that law enforcement had originally set up to protect Congress and Vice President [Mike] Pence during the certification of the Electoral College vote,” the charging documents read.

Brown also appeared on police bodycam footage outside the east doors of the Capitol at 4:27 p.m. on Jan. 6.

Officers from the Metropolitan Police Department of the District of Columbia ordered the crowd to back up.

“… Brown only retreated when pushed with police baton sticks,” the charging document said. “During this encounter, Brown repeatedly claimed the officers were, in his opinion, violating the laws and the Constitution of the United States.”

An unnamed defendant who pleaded guilty to a federal charge of obstructing an official proceeding told the FBI Brown coordinated his trip to D.C. using the encrypted messenger application Signal.

On one Signal chat session, Brown messaged, “we have an RV an (sic) van going. Plenty of gun ports left to fill. We can pick you up.” Brown nicknamed his RV “Ground Force One,” according to an FBI affidavit filed Sept. 29, 2021.

Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri on Jan. 7, 2022, shows how deputies chased and apprehended Garrett James Smith, 22, whose backpack contained a pipe bomb. (Pinellas County Sheriff's Office/YouTube)
Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri on Jan. 7, 2022, shows how deputies chased and apprehended Garrett James Smith, 22, whose backpack contained a pipe bomb. (Pinellas County Sheriff's Office/YouTube)

Brown messaged the following on Jan. 6, 2021: “Everything you are watching on the media and houses of Congress is a lie! I was shot in the neck with pepper balls and beating in the forearm with a night stick trying to shield unprotected civilians from being hit in the head. This was an exercise in the unrestrained addiction to power.”

Brown said evidence against him has been labeled by prosecutors as “sensitive” or “highly sensitive,” but the search warrant for his property was leaked to left-leaning media before he saw the paperwork.

On Jan. 6, 2022, a rally was held outside the Pinellas County Jail. A Florida man was arrested with a pipe bomb in his backpack, after he approached the rally, being held in support of Brown’s release from jail. Brown spoke to rally attendees from inside the facility.

Arrest of ‘Sleeper’ Over Pipe Bomb

Garrett James Smith, 22, of Oldsmar, Fla., is being held in lieu of $300,000 bail at the jail. He is charged with three counts of making/possessing/discharge of a destructive device—a felony—and one misdemeanor count of loitering or prowling.

Pinellas County sheriff’s deputies chased Smith running across the parking lot where the rally was being held. They stopped him a short distance away.

Deputies found a pipe bomb in his backpack, according to Sheriff Bob Gualtieri. “He was dressed in all black. He had a black covering over his face and he was carrying a black backpack,” Gualtieri said at a Jan. 7 news conference. “He was running fast and it looked like he was fleeing from something.”

The bomb squad from the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office determined the pipe bomb in the backpack was a live device. When searching Smith’s car, deputies found M-80 firecrackers. A search of his residence found another pipe bomb and several grenades in his bedroom, Gualtieri said.

“Smith is what we call a ‘sleeper’ and these are the most concerning individuals because there is no opportunity to intervene and thwart their criminal activity until they actually act,” the sheriff said.

“We’re fortunate in this situation that something caused Smith to flee before he ignited the explosive device and deputies were able to apprehend him.”

Smith refused to speak with investigators.

Gualtieri said family reported that Smith recently move to Florida from Portland, Ore., the site of months of Antifa and Black Lives Matter violence in 2020.

Joseph M. Hanneman is a former reporter for The Epoch Times who focussed on the January 6 Capitol incursion and its aftermath, as well as general Wisconsin news. In 2022, he helped to produce "The Real Story of Jan. 6," an Epoch Times documentary about the events that day. Joe has been a journalist for nearly 40 years.
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