Updated June 17, 2020 - 9:15 pm
In a rare coordinated effort, three suspected members of the boogaloo movement were indicted by both county and federal grand juries Wednesday in connection with an alleged conspiracy to cause violence during Black Lives Matter protests.
The three defendants — Stephen Parshall, 35, Andrew Lynam, 23, and William Loomis, 40 — are in federal custody on no bail.
They face state terrorism and explosives charges and federal charges of conspiring to cause destruction by fire and explosive, and possessing an unregistered destructive device, a Molotov cocktail.
The charges in both indictments also include alleged plans by the right-wing extremist group to firebomb a power substation and damage federal buildings.
“I’ve never heard of both jurisdictions being so finely calibrated that they end up with indictments on the same day,” veteran criminal defense attorney Thomas Pitaro said. “I think they want to get ahead of this threat and send a message to people who have been committing this violence. That message is don’t come here and think you’re going to get away with it.”
Former federal prosecutor Kathleen Bliss added, “They can be prosecuted by both jurisdictions, no ifs and or buts. It’s definitely an indication that authorities are seriously looking at this.”
Chief District Judge Linda Bell set $1 million bail for all three defendants in state court and “high-level electronic monitoring” if they end up being released. Bell also ordered the men to appear for a July 16 arraignment on the charges.
The strict electronic monitoring was sought by Deputy District Attorney Michael Dickerson, who has argued the men are a danger to the community.
The charges in both high-profile indictments are the same as those contained in previous criminal complaints that prosecutors filed June 2 in Las Vegas Justice Court and federal court.
The state case now goes directly to Clark County District Court for trial, and the three defendants are to be arraigned in federal court on June 24.
Defense lawyer Robert Draskovich, who represents Parshall, said he believes the evidence is insufficient to support the charges in the state case.
“My client is looking forward to having his day in court in both cases,” Draskovich said after the indictments were returned. “This appears to be based upon a cooperating witness’s story with very little undercover FBI involvement.”
Loomis’ lawyer Richard Wright declined comment.
FBI agents said they arrested the three men on May 30 after they learned the defendants were prepared to toss Molotov cocktails at police during a downtown protest that night. The FBI had infiltrated the group and worked the investigation jointly with Las Vegas police and other law enforcement authorities.
The extremist boogaloo movement, which is decentralized with no national leaders, believes in an impending civil war and ultimate societal collapse.
At a hearing in federal court Tuesday, Assistant U.S. Attorney Nicholas Dickinson called Lynam the local group’s de facto “vocal and tactical leader.”
Dickinson told U.S. Magistrate Judge Nancy Koppe that Lynam, the group’s youngest member, moderated its Facebook page and corresponded with boogaloo members in California, Arizona and Colorado.
“It wasn’t a matter of if he would act, but when he would act,” Dickinson argued.
Lynam’s lawyer, Assistant Federal Public Defender Sylvia Irvin, questioned the validity of the federal case, which she said relies heavily on the credibility of the FBI informant. Irvin argued that Lynam was merely expressing his First Amendment views.
But Dickinson responded that the government has “vast audio and video recordings” of the alleged plot to commit violence.
Irvin sought home detention for Lynam, an Army reservist and medic, pointing to his extensive family and community ties.
Both his father, Andrew Lynam Sr., and mother, Arissa Lynam, submitted letters to Koppe pleading for his release.
“I am writing you this letter because I am extremely concerned for my son and his safety in jail,” said his father, a U.S. Coast Guard veteran. “He cares for people, always has, and has a good heart. He would never hurt anyone or anything intentionally.”
Arissa Lynam added: “This is obviously a heartbreaking situation for me and our family. No mom wants to talk to her son from a jail cell.”
She said her son growing up was “extremely cerebral” and known for following the rules.
“Not only was he wise beyond his years, but his belief system was steadfast,” she said. “He was always one to speak out and stand up for what he believes to be good.”
But Koppe sided with the government and ordered Lynam detained in the federal case.
Contact Jeff German at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-380-4564. Follow @JGermanRJ on Twitter. German is a member of the Review-Journal’s investigative team, focusing on reporting that holds leaders and agencies accountable and exposes wrongdoing. Support our journalism.