‘Prep­per’ faces new charges in su­per­sed­ing in­dict­ment

Maryland Independent - - Front Page - By AN­DREW RICHARD­SON arichard­son@somd­news.com

Four months af­ter fed­eral agents raided his home and re­port­edly dis­cov­ered an ar­chive of child pornog­ra­phy and an un­der­ground bunker com­plete with a vast arse­nal of weaponry, a Wal­dorf man faces ad­di­tional charges from a su­per­sed­ing in­dict­ment in U.S. District Court in Green­belt.

Caleb An­drew Bai­ley, 30, who had been elect-

ed in April’s pri­mary as a del­e­gate to at­tend the Repub­li­can Na­tional Con­ven­tion in sup­port of Don­ald Trump, re­port­edly had 14 ma­chine guns, 14 un­reg­is­tered short-bar­reled ri­fles, 20 grenade launch­ers, six ther­mite grenades, as well as an un­told num­ber of legally-owned firearms stashed in­side the hid­den bunker, ac­cord­ing to court records. In a de­ten­tion hear­ing in late May, Bai­ley’s at­tor­ney — ar­gu­ing in fa­vor of a bond — told the court that the vast ma­jor­ity of the weapons were le­gal.

In the ini­tial in­dict­ment, Bai­ley had been charged with un­law­ful trans­port of ex­plo­sives by a non-li­censee, il­le­gal pos­ses­sion of a ma­chine gun, pro­duc­tion and at­tempted pro­duc­tion of child pornog­ra­phy and pos­ses­sion of child pornog­ra­phy. Though, prose­cu­tors said in court that an­other in­dict­ment was im­mi­nent as in­ves­ti­ga­tors con­tin­ued to test the weapons with con­cern of le­gal­ity.

The re­cent in­dict­ment charges Bai­ley for the ad­di­tional firearms found to be il­le­gal, many of which had been con­verted to fire au­to­mat­i­cally, ac­cord­ing to court records and pro­ceed­ings. He was also charged for pos­sess­ing the grenades and launch­ers or “un­reg­is­tered de­struc­tive de­vices,” and an ad­di­tional count for wit­ness tam­per­ing.

The case be­gan af­ter a pack­age, re­port­edly mailed by Bai­ley, rup­tured at a U.S. Postal Ser­vice fa­cil­ity in Fe­bru­ary. In­side the pack­age, which was ad­dressed to a firearms store in Wis­con­sin, po­lice found il­le­gal ex­plo­sive am­mu­ni­tion.

When po­lice raided Bai­ley’s home in May, they re­cov­ered an enor­mous cache of weapons, hid­den cam­eras and an ar­chive of child pornog­ra­phy — about 600 videos, prose­cu­tors said. Some ap­peared to have been down­loaded from the in­ter­net, but the gov­ern­ment claims Bai­ley also used hid­den cam­eras to se­cretly record three naked teenage boys so he could later watch them for his own sex­ual sat­is­fac­tion, ac­cord­ing to court pro­ceed­ings.

“He’s se­cre­tive. He’s a ghost,” said As­sis­tant U.S. At­tor­ney Jen­nifer Sykes dur­ing the May de­ten­tion hear­ing. “He’s de­ceived so many peo­ple … these mi­nors who trusted him.”

On a hard drive re­cov­ered by po­lice, in­ves­ti­ga­tors found fold­ers named af­ter each of the three boys, court pro­ceed­ings re­vealed. In­side the fold­ers were sub-fold­ers la­beled “hid­den cam­era videos,” prose­cu­tors said. Footage from the bath­room cam­era is aimed toward the shower, fo­cused on the boys’ gen­i­tals.

“This was not in­ad­ver­tent,” Sykes said. “This was pur­pose­ful.”

As of the hear­ing in May, law en­force­ment had not yet in­ter­viewed the three boys, and prose­cu­tors ex­pressed con­cern that their re­la­tion­ship with Bai­ley may in­flu­ence them. Bai­ley had be­friended them and of­ten rode ATVs with them, court pro­ceed­ings re­vealed.

Just be­fore the po­lice raid, one of the boys, al­legedly di­rected by Bai­ley, ran out of the house with a lap­top, a cam­era and an ex­ter­nal hard drive, which con­tained child pornog­ra­phy, and at­tempted to hide it in the woods, court records in­di­cate. This al­leged in­ci­dent formed the ba­sis for the wit­ness tam­per­ing charge listed in the su­per­sed­ing in­dict­ment.

U.S. District Judge Paul Grimm noted that it is well doc­u­mented that vic­tims in child porn cases are of­ten “groomed” by the per­pe­tra­tor, and the fact that the boys have not been in­ter­viewed could sug­gest they are un­will­ing or afraid to talk to the gov­ern­ment.

Grimm, who re­tired as a lieu­tenant colonel in the U.S. Army Re­serve, called the weapons cache dis­cov­ered in Bai­ley’s un­der­ground bunker “sim­ply jaw-drop­ping in its mag­ni­tude,” ad­ding that he has never seen an arse­nal of that size.

While de­fense at­tor­ney Wil­liam Bren­nan Jr. con­ceded to some of the al­le­ga­tions, he ar­gued that Bai­ley was not danger­ous or a flight-risk. Rather, Bai­ley is a “prep­per,” he said, and ex­plained why Bai­ley had es­tab­lished a hid­den cam­era in the bath­room.

“The gov­ern­ment prefers to call it a bunker; we pre­fer to call it a safe room,” Bren­nan said. “The vast ma­jor­ity of the weapons ... were in fact le­gal.”

“We agree there were a lot of weapons in there,” he said, but pointed out that there were items con­sis­tent with post-dis­as­ter sur­vival prepa­ra­tion in the bunker, such as large jugs of wa­ter, flash lights, first-aid kits and MRE (Meals Ready to Eat) ra­tions.

Re­gard­ing the hid­den cam­era in the bath­room, Bren­nan told the court that Bai­ley had orig­i­nally placed it there to catch a for­mer room­mate that Bai­ley sus­pected of us­ing drugs, kick­ing him out of the house upon dis­cov­ery. Bren­nan did not deny that Bai­ley was in pos­ses­sion of child pornog­ra­phy down­loaded from the in­ter­net, but said he did not man­u­fac­ture it him­self by us­ing the cam­eras.

“Mr. Ben­nett, how did the fam­ily not know about it?” asked Grimm, who also won­dered how Bai­ley could af­ford to amass such an ar­ray of weapons.

His fam­ily knew he col­lected firearms, Bren­nan said, but “they ab­so­lutely did not know the ex­tent of this.”

Bren­nan in­di­cated that Bai­ley may have si­phoned off some of his fam­ily’s prop­erty.

Bai­ley lives alone in the house, lo­cated on a 75acre plot of land owned by his fa­ther who owns a whole­sale lum­ber busi­ness, ac­cord­ing to court pro­ceed­ings.

The Bai­ley fam­ily had agreed to post Caleb’s bond with a prop­erty val­ued around $1.5 mil­lion. U.S. Mag­is­trate Judge Charles Day agreed to these terms, with con­di­tions that Bai­ley live with his sis­ter in St. Mary’s County. She would act as a third-party cus­to­dian while Caleb’s par­ents would su­per­vise him in her ab­sence to en­sure he did not vi­o­late his con­di­tions of re­lease, which in­cluded no in­ter­net ac­cess, ac­cord­ing to court pro­ceed­ings.

How­ever, Day stayed his order of re­lease upon ap­peal from As­sis­tant U.S. At­tor­neys Thomas Win­dom and Sykes, and trans­ferred the case to U.S. District Court to be heard by Grimm.

Ul­ti­mately, Grimm ruled in fa­vor of the gov­ern­ment, mean­ing Bai­ley will re­main in cus­tody to await trial, un­less con­di­tions of re­lease can be agreed upon.

Bai­ley’s next hear­ing date has not been set.

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