A month before the Jan. 6 U.S. Capitol insurrection, a 40-year-old Ladera Ranch entrepreneur who has been charged with conspiracy in connection with the violent attack issued a dire, prophetic warning to the Orange County Board of Supervisors.
“Week after week, I and others are with thousands in the street all up and down the state of California,” Russell Taylor said during a December 2020 board meeting. “You know what they are saying? Revolution. Storm the Capitol.”
Here’s Taylor at last month’s BOS meeting saying there’s going to be a revolution and people are going to storm the capitols. pic.twitter.com/IoJRfYa2wV
— Cineaste_C (@Cineaste_C) January 7, 2021
Federal prosecutors allege he and five other Southern California men did just that.
On Thursday, Taylor, along with former La Habra Police Chief Alan Hostetter, 45, of San Clemente; Erik Scott Warner, 45, of Menifee; Felipe Antonio “Tony” Martinez, 47, of Lake Elsinore; Derek Kinnison, 39, of Lake Elsinore; and Ronald Mele, 51 of Temecula, were arrested for their alleged roles in the bull rush of beleaguered police who tried to protect the Capitol and lawmakers inside as they attempted to certify the 2020 presidential election.
All of the men are facing numerous federal charges, including conspiracy, obstructing an official proceeding and unlawful entry on restricted building or grounds. Additionally, Taylor is charged with obstructing law enforcement during a civil disorder and unlawful possession of a dangerous weapon on Capitol grounds.
Inland Empire suspects
The suspects from the Inland Empire have varying backgrounds.
Warner worked as a nurse for Riverside University Health System from June to August 2011, said Melody Hendrickson, a senior management analyst for Riverside County. His subsequent employment at the Escondido-based Palomar Health was even more brief. He worked there from March 4 to 26 in 2013. “That is 22 days he worked for us,” company spokesman Derryl Acosta said.
Reached by telephone Friday, Warner said, “No comment, brother,” before hanging up.
Kinnison, Martinez and Mele could not be reached for comment.
Public records show Kinnison owns and operates a power washing company, New Creation Power Wash, in Lake Elsinore. Calls to the business went unanswered.
Mele is an account manager for Lactalis American Group, a national dairy company based in Buffalo, New York, that specializes in the manufacture of fine cheeses. On Friday, Mele’s LinkedIn page appeared to have been disabled or deactivated. Officials at Lactalis could not be reached for comment.
Taylor, clad in a black T-shirt and gray shorts, was arraigned Friday in U.S. District Court in Santa Ana. Magistrate Judge Douglas F. McCormick stayed a request from Taylor’s attorney, Dyke Huish, who asked that the defendant be released on $50,000 bond pending a ruling by a federal judge for the District of Columbia.
Several times during the hearing, Taylor turned to his wife, Deborah, seated in the courtroom, and nodded. Following the hearing, he was remanded to the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service.
Attorney: Taylor not a militant
Huish said Friday that Taylor’s intentions have been misunderstood.
“Mr. Taylor holds a deep belief in the principles upon which this nation was founded,” he added. “Mr. Taylor has never been an activist or a vocal individual, but the extraordinary events of the last year prompted him to step forward in what he believed was his legal, moral and patriotic duty.
An unsealed federal grand jury indictment alleges Taylor and Hostetter allegedly joined rioters who were pushing through a line of law enforcement officers. Taylor also is accused of carrying a knife in a vest pocket and urging the rioters on before pushing through a police line and upstairs in the Capitol onto a terrace.
The indictment also says Taylor was part of The California Patriots-DC Brigade, a social media chat group that he described as being “exclusive to be utilized to organize a group of fighters to have each other’s backs and ensure that no one will trample on our rights.”
Taylor also wrote he assumed other members of the group “have some type of weaponry you are bringing with you,” and asked those with law enforcement or military experience to identify themselves, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
Taylor has no connections to any militia groups, Huish said.
Prosecutors: Taylor helped organize revolt
Prosecutors say Taylor on Jan. 5 posted a photo on an encrypted messaging service showing “gear” arranged on a bed, including two hatchets, a stun baton and a knife, along with a caption reading “Now getting ready for tomorrow.”
Additionally, on the day of the uprising, Taylor allegedly took a “selfie-style video” and said, “We are on the move. Heading up to the Capitol” as demonstrators walked down Pennsylvania Avenue.
The day before the attack, Hostetter and Taylor allegedly co-sponsored a pro-Trump rally near the Supreme Court where they and others addressed supporters.
Other speakers included Russ Taylor, who also joined in with inciting the crowd the day before the attack on the Capitol. Remember, he marched to the Capitol in a bulletproof vest, what appears to be a knife, and with previous hints of bringing other weapons: pic.twitter.com/FHgoPJ0qIv
— InMinivanHell (@inminivanhell) January 12, 2021
An unlikely revolutionary
At first blush, Taylor, who has three children, seems an unlikely and contradictory firebrand.
A graduate of Brigham Young University, he is the founder and former owner of Fusion of Ideas, a successful Lake Forest graphic design company. Taylor stepped away from Fusion of Ideas in 2020 and no longer owns any interest in the company, Huish said. The business is now run by his wife.
Taylor has received several accolades for his business acumen. In 2020, he was nominated for Orange County Business Journal‘s Excellence in Entrepreneurship Award.
In April 2020 and February 2021, Fusion of Ideas received two Paycheck Protection Program loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration totaling about $1 million to fund the salaries of the company’s 45 employees impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
While Taylor has spoken out against government regulations and overreach, he posted a video on Fusion of Ideas’ Facebook page indicating that, due to the pandemic, his company had pivoted its production line to manufacture protective face shields.
“During these unprecedented times,” he said in the video, “it’s important that we all come together as individuals, businesses and communities to protect that which is most important, the health and safety of individuals.”
Staff Writer Joe Nelson contributed to this report.
Source: Orange County Register