BERRYVILLE — Insurrection suspect Thomas Edward Caldwell is no longer under house arrest in Clarke County.
U.S. District Court Judge Amit P. Mehta modified Caldwell’s confinement conditions Wednesday to allow him out from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. weekdays and 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on weekends. The change was to allow Caldwell to visit his attorney and doctors.
In a request to Mehta for modification, Caldwell’s attorney David W. Fischer wrote that the pretrial services officer supervising Caldwell suggested he seek a curfew with GPS monitoring because his frequent travels were a burden on the federal pretrial services department.
Caldwell, 65, was jailed after the FBI raided his home in the 200 block of Wadesville Road on Jan. 19. He was released on house arrest on March 12. Sharon Caldwell, Caldwell’s wife declined comment Thursday citing her husband’s pending case.
“This is not the right time,” she said. “But we would like to talk to [The Winchester Star] at some point.”
Caldwell, a retired Navy commander active in Clarke County politics, is charged with obstruction of government proceedings, destruction of government property and conspiracy to those charges. He’s accused of plotting the insurrection with Donovan Ray Crowl and Jessica Watkins, two alleged members of the Oath Keepers, a far right militia group comprised of current and former police officers and military members.
In text messages that are part of the criminal complaint against Caldwell, he frequently discusses political violence to keep President Joe Biden from taking office despite Biden defeating former President Donald Trump in the November election.
“I believe we will have to get violent to stop this, especially the antifa maggots who are sure to come out enmasse if we get the Prez for 4 more years,” Caldwell allegedly said in a Nov. 23 text to Watkins about a planned Trump rally at the Capitol in December. “You are my kind of person and we may need to fight next time.”
In a Jan. 1 Facebook post, Caldwell allegedly wrote:
“I swore to support and defend the constitution of the United States against all enemies foreign and domestic. I did the former and I have done the latter peacefully, but they have morphed into pure evil blatantly rigging an election and paying off the political caste. We must smite them now and drive them down.”
Caldwell also allegedly texted about a “pre-strike” and “night hunting” the night before the insurrection which the government alleges is a reference to stalking anti- fascist activists. Other Facebook messages attributed to Caldwell have him referring to Oathkeepers bringing “goodies in case things go bad and we need to go heavy” an apparent reference to weapons.
As the mob of Trump supporters invaded the Capitol, Facebook messages attributed to Caldwell also have him saying, “We are surging forward.” Doors breached” and “Inside.”
But Fischer said in an interview that Caldwell took part in the Trump rally before the insurrection, but not the actual riot and isn’t an Oathkeeper. He said the government now concedes Caldwell was directly outside the Capitol, but never entered it. He said the violent rhetoric attributed to Caldwell was just tough talk and the messages about invading the Capitol was Caldwell delivering an online play-by-play of the attack.
“They had absolutely no evidence that there was any pre-plan to go into the Capitol. They have zero evidence,” Fischer said. “He has never been inside the capitol in his life.”
Fischer said Caldwell, who is scheduled to reappear in federal court online on June 1, is being railroaded by the government. “In my 25 years of being a criminal defense attorney, I have never seen a man who is more innocent than Thomas Caldwell,” he said.