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Proud Boy could lose tens of thousands in donations if he accepts public defender, attorney warns

Philadelphia Proud Boys leader Zachary Rehl has raised more than $60,000 in donations and pledges to support his Capitol riot case.

WASHINGTON — The lawyer for a Philadelphia man accused of helping to lead the Proud Boys on January 6 wants to make sure he knows he could lose out on tens of thousands of dollars donated for his defense if he decides to switch to a public defender instead.

In a “conditional motion to withdraw” filed Thursday evening, attorney Jonathon Moseley said he will abide by his client Zachary Rehl’s wish to drop him as his legal representative – but only if the court assures him Rehl hasn’t been “manipulated.”

Rehl, who according to the DOJ was the president of the Philadelphia chapter of the Proud Boys on January 6, is one of four alleged leaders of the organization under federal indictment on felony charges of conspiracy and obstruction of an official proceeding. If convicted at trial, he could face up to 20 years in prison.

Rehl has been held in pretrial detention since his arrest in March. During that time, Moseley says he’s spent “considerable time” working on Rehl’s behalf to raise money for his legal defense. According to Moseley’s motion, those funds amount to more than $60,000 as of this week.

The money has been raised through various channels, including more than $40,000 on Rehl’s personal donation page on the self-described “Christian crowdfunding” site GiveSendGo. GiveSendGo has become a popular fundraising site for right-wing causes blocked from other options. A fundraiser for now-acquitted Kenosha, Wisconsin, shooter Kyle Rittenhouse on the site raised more than $600,000.

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Moseley says in his filing Rehl has also been pledged $20,000 from the Patriot Freedom Project. The group was founded by Cynthia Hughes, whose nephew, alleged white supremacist Timothy Hale-Cusanelli, is also incarcerated while he awaits trial on charges stemming from January 6. According to Patriot Freedom Project’s own GiveSendGo page, the group has raised more than $270,000 to support January 6 defendants. 

Moseley said Rehl also received a commitment Monday from embattled attorney Sidney Powell’s group Defending the Republic to cover all of his legal expenses from now through a June 2022 trial date. The organization is reportedly under investigation by federal regulators, and Powell herself was one of a number of attorneys sanctioned this month by a federal judge in Michigan for her efforts to spread former President Donald Trump’s lies about the 2020 election. Powell is also named as a defendant in a billion-dollar defamation suit brought by Dominion Voting Systems.

Defending the Republic did not immediately respond Friday to questions about its commitment to Rehl’s defense.

According to Moseley, much of the funds raised and pledged on his behalf could be in jeopardy if Rehl decides to drop his private counsel and accept representation from the Federal Public Defender’s Office instead.

Moseley said Rehl’s private donation page asked for funds for “legal fees and expenses”— which would not exist with a public defender – and that the Patriot Freedom Project’s explicit goal is to “avoid having January 6 defendants have to rely upon the government for supplying an attorney funded by the government for the government prosecuting them.” Accepting a donation from them might then be, Moseley said, a misrepresentation.

In addition to the potential loss of donated funds, Moseley suggested – without evidence – that Rehl might be the target of “a widespread effort” by the government to interfere in the legal representation of January 6 defendants.

The D.C. Federal Public Defender’s Office did not immediately respond to a request Friday to respond to Moseley’s assertion.

According to a former federal prosecutor, however, the motion on Moseley's part is "highly unusual."

"Moseley is asking the judge to allow him to withdraw from the case, but only if Rehl can find a very specific attorney of his choosing," Neama Rahmani told WUSA. "And the reason Moseley wants to withdraw is because Rehl isn’t giving Moseley donations for his legal fees.  A fee dispute is not something that should be discussed in a public filing.  It is unprofessional and potentially discloses confidential communications between Moseley and his client.”

Moseley has been behind a number of the most unorthodox filings to date in Capitol riot cases. In one filed on behalf of another client, Oath Keeper Kelly Meggs, Moseley claimed – again without evidence – that the government was demanding “loyalty oaths” in plea deals and punishing January 6 defendants who would not “’KNEEL BEFORE ZOD’ and share the political opinions of a current majority…” Zod is a supervillain and antagonist of Superman in DC Comics and movies – most recently 2013’s “Man of Steel.”

Moseley also signed on to a request with his co-counsel in the Meggs case, attorney Brad Geyer, to file a 130-page brief comparing COVID-19 vaccines to the Holocaust in a bid to get him and another Oath Keeper, Kenneth Harrelson, out of pretrial detention. A federal judge denied that motion. Geyer ultimately filed more than 600 pages of documents attacking the efficacy of the COVID-19 vaccines and claiming falsely that there is not an FDA-approved COVID-19 vaccine available in the U.S. The Justice Department has asked the judge in the case to reject those filings for ignoring his order against filing “bombastic” motions.

According to another notice to the court filed earlier this week, Moseley is also facing legal troubles of his own. Per publicly available court documents, Moseley is appealing a federal judge’s ruling suspending his license to practice law in the Eastern District of Virginia and ordering him to pay more than $10,000 to a creditor who won a judgment against him. The suspension, which is in a different federal district from the one where January 6 cases are being tried, remains on hold while Moseley appeals to the 4th Circuit.

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