Another Georgian arrested in Capitol riot; judge denies bond for two others

Half-dozen Georgians now among more than 200 facing charges.
Pro-Trump protesters storm the Capitol in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021, on the same day as a joint session of Congress met to certify the electoral votes from the 2020 presidential election.  Poor planning among a constellation of government agencies and a restive crowd encouraged by President Trump set the stage for the unthinkable. (Erin Schaff/The New York Times)

Credit: NYT

Credit: NYT

Pro-Trump protesters storm the Capitol in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021, on the same day as a joint session of Congress met to certify the electoral votes from the 2020 presidential election. Poor planning among a constellation of government agencies and a restive crowd encouraged by President Trump set the stage for the unthinkable. (Erin Schaff/The New York Times)

The list of Georgians connected to the Jan. 6 insurrection grew Thursday with the arrest of a Buford man who was identified online as among the first to breach the U.S. Capitol.

Verden Andrew Nalley, of Buford, was allegedly with Americus attorney William McCall Calhoun as pro-Trump rioters pushed past police and entered the Capitol, according to an indictment filed Thursday in federal court. Nalley, 49, has been charged with three felonies. He was arrested by the FBI with assistance from the Gwinnett County Sheriff’s Office.

According to federal investigators, Calhoun identified Nalley in a Facebook post on Jan. 6.

“We physically took control of the Capitol Building in a hand to hand hostile takeover,” Calhoun wrote, according to an FBI affidavit. “I was there and saw it all. My buddy Andy Nalley and I were in the first two hundred to rush up the steps and inside after the Vanguard had clashed hard with the police and made them retreat.”

Nalley will be in court Friday to ask for bond, but his prospects seem dim. Calhoun, one of the first defendants to be charged in the insurrection, was denied bond in an earlier hearing. Prosecutors have argued that many of the more than 200 people so far arrested in the attack pose too great a threat to be released.

Verden Andrew Nalley of Buford was charged with three felonies for his role in the breach of the U.S. Capitol Jan. 6. He was arrested Feb. 16, 2021, by the FBI and Gwinnett County sheriffs. Photo: Gwinnett County Sheriff

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‘Zip-tie guy’ denied bond

Separately, a Georgia native who was first identified as “zip-tie guy” after he was shown carrying a handful of plastic handcuffs on the Senate floor was denied bond for his role in the insurrection, along with his mother, a nurse from Woodstock who also stormed the Capitol.

A federal judge in Washington, D.C., ruled Wednesday that Eric Gavelek Munchel, 30, who grew up in Blue Ridge, and his mother, Lisa Marie Eisenhart, 56, were to be held in jail pending trial. The ruling overturned the order of a federal magistrate in Tennessee who granted the pair bond in a hearing last month.

In a 17-page opinion, Judge Royce C. Lamberth denied a bond request for the pair, writing that their “conduct threatens the republic itself,” and cited George Washington’s Farewell Address to buttress his conclusion that the Jan. 6 riot was an assault on the fundamental principles of self-governance.

“Indeed, few offenses are more threatening to our way of life,” he wrote.

In a brief supporting the state’s no-bond request, prosecutors wrote the evidence “is immense.”

“The defendant can make no serious claim that he went to the Capitol on January 6 intending to engage in peaceful protest or civil disobedience,” they wrote of Munchel. “Instead, the evidence supports the conclusion that he intended to contribute to chaos, obstruct the Electoral College certification, and sow fear.”

It is “difficult to fathom a more serious danger to the community ... than the one posed by armed insurrectionists, including the defendant, who joined in the occupation of the United States Capitol,” prosecutors claimed.

Lisa Marie Eisenhart, a nurse from Woodstock, was arrested in the Capitol riot and is the mother of Eric Munchel, who has also been charged.

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Prior to the pro-Trump uprising, Eisenhart spent 30 years as a nurse. She had no prior criminal history. Munchel worked as a bartender in Florida and Tennessee, most recently at a Nashville bar owned by country rocker Kid Rock. He had prior arrests, including two drug possession convictions and an alleged assault in 2013.

Munchel brought a Taser and a knife with him to the “stop the steal” rally, as well as an iPhone strapped to the front of his tactical vest that he used to record a 50-minute video of the assault.

According to court records, Eisenhart encouraged her son to enter the Capitol, saying “the (tear) gas isn’t bad.” The video also captured Eisenhart and Munchel shouting encouragement to apparent militia members and others assaulting the Capitol, the opinion states.

Munchel found the plastic restraints once they were inside the Capitol and he carried them into the Senate chamber. The video allegedly shows Munchel and Eisenhart stepping over railings in the Senate gallery while Eisenhart shouted, “Treason! Treason!” Eventually, Munchel encouraged his mother to leave the Capitol, according to court records.

“But he never disapproved of her actions,” the judge wrote.

After leaving the Capitol, Eisenhart spoke to a reporter with The Times of London, saying she would “rather die ... than live under oppression.”

“If they’re going to take every legitimate means from us, and we can’t even express ourselves on the internet, we won’t even be able to speak freely, what is America for?” she told the newspaper.

The rioters were “flexing their muscles,” Munchel added. “We wanted to show that we’re willing to rise up, band together and fight if necessary,” he said.

According to prosecutors, Munchel allegedly assaulted someone in the D.C. hotel where he and his mother were staying who recorded them on their phone the day after the riot.

The FBI arrested the pair in Tennessee after searching Munchel’s Nashville apartment, seizing 15 firearms, a drum magazine and “a large quantity of loaded magazines,” according to court records.

A growing list

Federal authorities have tied others in Georgia to the insurrection.

Last week, a federal judge denied bond to Bruno Cua, 18 of Milton, who also was filmed inside the Senate chamber. Cua traveled with his family to Washington to attend the rally where former President Donald Trump urged his followers to “fight like hell.”

Cua’s father, Joseph Cua, testified at the bond hearing that he and his family were “misled” by the former president and supporters like Atlanta attorney Lin Wood. He said he no longer believed the November election was stolen from Trump.

Michael Shane Daughtry of Baker County was arrested for a misdemeanor after members of the Pelham Police Department saw his social media posts during the riot and alerted the FBI. A former police officer, Daughtry was among the crowd that pushed its way onto the Capitol grounds and onto the scaffolding erected for the inauguration, according to an affidavit filed in his case.

Cleveland Meredith, a Georgia native who had recently moved to Colorado, missed the Jan. 6 riot due to car trouble but was arrested later in a Washington hotel after sending messages threatening to assassinate House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

Federal authorities arrested 22-year-old Benjamin Harry Torre, of Dawsonville, last week on charges that he illegally entered the Capitol through a broken window during the riot and went into the office of a senator. Torre was identified through photos circulated on social media. He faces two misdemeanor charges and was released on bond.

And Alpharetta banker Christopher Georgia, 53, attended the rally and was arrested by D.C. police on a curfew violation and unlawful entry onto private property. Georgia killed himself in his home three days later.

Georgians charged

Suspects with Georgia ties facing the most serious felonies for the Jan. 6 breach of the U.S. Capitol:

William McCall Calhoun, Jr., 57, Americus, held without bond

Cleveland Grover Meredith, Jr., 52, Georgia native recently living in Colorado, held without bond

Eric Gavelek Munchel, 30, Georgia native recently living in Nashville, held without bond

Lisa Marie Eisenhart, 56, Woodstock, held without bond

Bruno Joseph Cua, 18, Milton, held without bond

Verden Andrew Nalley, 49, Buford, held pending bond hearing Feb. 19

Note: Does not include Georgians charged with misdemeanors.