Adam Bies, a Mercer County man who confronted the FBI with a rifle but thought better of it and put it down, deserves up to three years in federal prison, prosecutors say.
Bies is set to be sentenced in U.S. District Court on Oct. 4 for threatening to kill FBI agents after the bureau raided Donald Trump’s Florida estate in August 2022 in search of classified documents the former president is now accused of illegally hoarding.
Another man who confronted the FBI in Cincinnati for the same reason — and opened fire — ended up dead.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeff Bengel said Bies could well have joined him. A judge at the time of his arraignment said the same.
“The fact that that tragedy did not occur is due in no small part to the expertise and bravery of the responding FBI agents and law enforcement officers that Bies had threatened,” Bengel said in a sentencing memo. “And everyone involved is fortunate that, at the last possible second, Bies made the right decision and put down his weapon.”
He said that even so, Bies should go to prison for 30 to 37 months.
Bies and his lawyer said he should get less because he didn’t single out any agents and doesn’t have any prior convictions.
The FBI raided Mar-a-Lago on Aug. 8, 2022. The next day, Bies went on social media and posted, “Is it time for Civil War yet? Seriously, how much longer before we finally do what needs to be done?”
In the following days, Bies launched a series of vile rants against the FBI. He called them pedophiles and said everyone at the bureau, including janitors, should die because of the Trump raid.
“HEY FEDS,” he wrote. “We the people cannot WAIT to water the trees of liberty with your blood. I’ll be waiting for you to kick down my door.”
They did kick down his door. But when the moment of truth arrived, his boastful words proved to be empty and he gave up. Had he not, an FBI agent testified, the result would have been different — meaning he’d be dead.
On Aug. 11, 2022, another Trump supporter, who had been at the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection, attacked the Cincinnati FBI office and fired shots. After a standoff, police killed him.
After that incident, Bies became “fixated” on dying in a shootout with the FBI, Bengel said.
On Aug. 12, agents and police arrived to serve a search warrant at Bies’ house near Mercer. SWAT teams surrounded the house, and law enforcement officers called his phone repeatedly while also asking him to come out over a loudspeaker.
Bies didn’t answer. He texted his girlfriend that he intended to shoot it out with federal agents and wanted to leave their children without parents.
Agents knocked down his door. For more than a half-hour, they continued trying to talk him out on the PA system. Bies finally walked out onto a side porch with an assault rifle in his hands. SWAT members told him to put it down. He did.
He later pleaded guilty to 14 counts related to interstate threats and retaliation against federal officers by threat.
Bengel said Bies deserves an enhanced sentence in part because he encouraged “collective action” against the FBI at a time when the bureau was receiving an increased number of threats, one of which resulted in that Cincinnati incident.
“In that context, there was a substantial risk that Bies’ public threats would incite similar threats from others — and Bies would have known that,” Bengel said.
For his part, Bies and his lawyer focused on what he didn’t do — he didn’t travel to any FBI agents’ homes, didn’t acquire new guns, didn’t make any more threats from jail.
But Bengel said Bies created an “extremely dangerous situation that could easily have resulted in tragedy. This would have been a tragedy solely of Bies’ design, unfolding in the way that he outlined in his Gab posts.”
When the FBI searched Bies’ house after his arrest, they found 12 guns and a compound bow. He’d also threatened to kill agents with the bow.
In the time between Bies’ arrest and now, Trump has been charged in four cases with various federal and state crimes — including hoarding the classified documents at Mar-a-Lago.