, June 25, 2022

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Prosecutors seek year sentence for militia group leader who ordered destruction of records

  •   3 min reads
Prosecutors seek year sentence for militia group leader who ordered destruction of records
Surveillance video captured a white van passing the federal courthouse in Oakland, where an occupant killed a police officer and wounded another on May 29, 2020. Photo: U.S. Attorney's Office for the Northern District of California.

SAN FRANCISCO – Prosecutors asked a federal judge to sentence an admitted leader of a Boogaloo militia group to 12 months in prison for destroying records relating to the murder of police officers in Oakland and Santa Cruz County last year.

Jessie Rush pleaded guilty in September to a single count of conspiracy to destroy records to impede a criminal investigation. The charge carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in federal prison, but in a sentencing memorandum filed on Monday, prosecutors recommended a sentence of 12 months in prison followed by three years of probation.

The Boogaloo Bois are a loose-knit militia group that has largely organized online which seeks to spark a second civil war. Adherents often use deceptively innocuous terms and imagery, referring to the movement as the “big igloo” or “big luau” and adopting Hawaiian shirts as a uniform.

Rush, along with three other members of the “Grizzly Scouts” militia group, admitted to destroying communications with Steven Carrillo, an active-duty U.S. Air Force staff sergeant stationed at Travis Air Force Base in Fairfield who allegedly shot two federal protective service officers during protests in Oakland last year, killing one and wounding another.

When sheriff’s deputies tried to take Carrillo into custody at his father’s home in Santa Cruz County, he allegedly killed a deputy and wounded another in a shootout and wrote “BOOG” in his own blood on a car before he was captured. Federal and state charges for the two murders are pending. Federal prosecutors may seek a death sentence for the murder of the protective services officer.

Carrillo had been communicating with the Grizzly Scouts through a WhatsApp group called “209 Goon HQ.” Before he went to Oakland on May 29, 2020, Carrillo allegedly contacted another group member, Simon Ybarra, who also pleaded guilty to destroying communications. Carrillo allegedly told Ybarra he intended to use protests over the police murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis as cover to “snipe some you know what’s.” Ybarra never responded, prosecutors said.

Then, as deputies closed in on Carrillo’s father’s house in Santa Cruz County, Carrillo allegedly texted the group asking for assistance, saying that police were approaching his property and he would likely be involved in a shootout. The others in the group responded that they couldn’t get there in time and questioned whether the officers were there for Carrillo. Carrillo allegedly said he’d “offed a fed,” and Rush told him to delete the communications.

Prosecutors said that Rush, Ybarra and two other group members – Robert Blancas and Kenny Miksch – all deleted their WhatsApp communications and moved to a different communications platform. Prosecutors said they continued their organizing activities until FBI agents searched their homes in August 2020.

The proposed sentence for Rush takes into account his “history and characteristics, including his lack of prior criminal history and difficult upbringing,” prosecutors wrote in the memorandum.

But, prosecutors wrote, it also is a “meaningful custodial sentence” that acknowledges Rush’s leadership role in the formation of a militia group that sought to stoke armed conflict with police, including discussions of taking police prisoner, taking their equipment, interrogating them, stripping them naked and releasing them in the woods.

Rush formed the group in April 2020 and appointed himself the rank of major.

As a former U.S. Army member, Rush “brought significant experience, training and authority to the group as its members escalated toward violence against law enforcement,” prosecutors wrote, pointing out that at one point Rush wrote, “the gov spent 100s of thousands of dollars on training me, im gonna use that shit.”

Rush, along with Ybarra and Miksch, reached a plea agreement with prosecutors in August, which recommended that they be sentenced to 6 months to a year in prison. Blancas reached a separate deal which included pleading guilty to separate federal charges for child enticement after searches revealed sexual chats with a 15-year-old girl. The full terms of the agreements have not been released.

Rush was released last year over prosecutors’ objections. Since then, his release has nearly been revoked multiple times because of the actions of his wife, who initially was appointed as his custodian but harassed a pre-trial services officer after learning that her communications with Rush were subject to monitoring. However, the court found that Rush appeared to be complying with the terms of his release.

Rush is scheduled to be sentenced on Jan. 10. Miksch and Ybarra are scheduled to be sentenced on Feb. 7, Blancas is scheduled to be sentenced on March 3.

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