Janesville man accused in US Capitol riot appears in court

Frank Schultz, The Janesville Gazette, Wis.
·2 min read

Apr. 8—MADISON/JANESVILLE — A Janesville man accused of participating in the Jan. 6 riot in the U.S. Capitol appeared in U.S. District Court in Madison on Thursday, where he was ordered to wear a monitoring bracelet while his case is pending.

As The Gazette reported Tuesday, Michael Fitzgerald, 42, of 626 S. Main St., is charged in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia with obstructing law enforcement, knowingly entering a restricted building, and violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds.

Fitzgerald's attorney, Mark Eisenberg, objected to the GPS-enabled ankle bracelet, arguing that Fitzgerald had voluntarily contacted and met with the FBI after his photo surfaced in an FBI "wanted" poster.

"He has taken responsibility for being there," Eisenberg said.

A criminal complaint accuses Fitzgerald of being part of a group of people that pushed against police officers to gain entry into the Capitol.

Federal prosecutor Elizabeth Altman said the D.C. district court is requesting no travel to D.C. in all the Capitol riot cases.

Eisenberg said Fitzgerald would not object to a ban on traveling to Washington, D.C., unless appearing in court or meeting with his attorney.

"We just want to know where he is. We're not concerned about him fleeing in this case," Altman said, adding that the government doesn't want Fitzgerald "going anywhere else, frankly, and that he not cause any more disturbances or havoc."

Eisenberg responded, saying, "He has four children. I don't think he wants to jeopardize these children and his family and his house. I think this is something that he went there and got caught up in. I don't think he has any intention of causing a further disturbance or violating the conditions of his release."

Federal Judge Stephen Crocker deemed the monitoring bracelet necessary, citing the charges and the fact Fitzgerald has admitted being in the Capitol during the violence in which people were killed.

Crocker set a date for Fitzgerald's initial appearance in the Washington, D.C., court where he is being charged: noon Thursday, April 22.

Fitzgerald appeared in an online video conference wearing a red UW-Madison sweatshirt. He said only "Yes, sir," when Crocker asked him if he understood the consequences of violating the terms of his release.

Eisenberg said Fitzgerald has applied for a federal defense attorney as the case goes forward because he "doesn't have the financial structure" to employ Eisenberg.