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White Supremacist Begs to be Released from Jail Over Coronavirus Fears


The risk of exposure to the coronavirus in jail does not warrant freeing a 19-year-old Maryland man while he awaits trial on criminal charges stemming from his membership in a violent white supremacist group the ‘Base’, a federal magistrate judge ruled Friday.

William Garfield Bilbrough IV has diabetes and his medical condition leaves him particularly vulnerable if he is exposed to the corona-virus while he is at the Correctional Treatment Facility in Washington, D.C., his attorneys said in a court filing.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Timothy Sullivan said in Friday’s order that there is no reason to believe Bilbrough is at increased risk of being infected with the virus just because he is confined in a pretrial lockup.

“Although Mr. Bilbrough may still be at an increased health risk if he is infected with the virus, this factor alone does not outweigh the other factors that strongly favor detention. Mr. Bilbrough is simply too great a danger to be released,” Sullivan wrote.

Bilbrough and two other men linked to a white supremacist group called The Base have been in federal custody since their arrests in January. Bilbrough is charged with helping transport and harbor a fellow Base member who was accused of illegally entering the U.S. from Canada.

Sullivan refused to set bond for Bilbrough on two previous occasions. The magistrate said during a March 4 hearing that his decision to keep Bilbrough in jail was a “very close call.” But he said he had reservations about releasing the defendant into his grandmother’s custody.

Prosecutors said an “avalanche” of defendants undoubtedly would seek their release from jail if Sullivan agreed to free Bilbrough.

The prospect of a corona-virus outbreak at the Washington jail is merely speculative, prosecutors said, noting that nobody detained at the facility had been diagnosed with covid-19 as of Wednesday.

Defense attorneys Robert Bonsib and Megan Coleman said “sorry won’t cut it,” if Bilbrough gets infected.