Joshua Macias and Antonio LaMotta Joshua Macias and Antonio LaMotta

Antonio LaMotta and Joshua Macias drove from Virginia Beach to Philadelphia on Election Night to “straighten things out.”

PHILADELPHIA — Joshua Macias and Antonio LaMotta didn’t actually do anything on Nov. 5, their attorneys said. Speaking during a virtual court hearing Thursday, the attorneys argued Philadelphia officials should drop all charges against their clients, since nothing actually happened. 

“I think we’re really punishing them for their thoughts and that’s what this comes down to,” LaMotta’s attorney Lauren Wimmer told Philadelphia Judge Mark Moore.  

Now yes, police officers caught them outside of the Pennsylvania Convention Center, armed with unregistered firearms. Yes, the silver Hummer they parked nearby had an AR-15 rifle inside with no serial number and rounds of ammunition. And yes, the FBI in Norfolk had warned Philadelphia officials that a group was driving down from Virginia Beach in a silver Hummer, just as these men did, with a possible plan to interfere with counting the votes.  

But nothing actually happened, Wimmer pointed out. There’s no evidence the two men did anything other than walk around the convention center, armed with unregistered weapons. As a result, she asked Judge Moore to drop the charges. Both men face one count of attempted interference with primaries and elections, one count of interfering with election duty and one count of conspiracy. 

Macias’ attorney William Brennan took it a step further. LaMotta and his client were just talking about fantasies, Brennan said. When his client posted “we are assembling to #StopTheSteal. JOIN US!” on Linkedin the Thursday before the Nov. 3 election, Brennan said, he wasn’t really going to do anything. 

“It’s puffery without the action,” Brennan said. 

Sports fans do the same thing, the lawyer argued. They talk big about wanting to hurt a player on another team, but they never actually do it. 

“They go down and tailgate, and drink their beer and then they go home,” he said. 

Charges Aren’t Dismissed If a Plan Fails

The prosecution, meanwhile, pointed out that’s not how the law works. Just because a plan failed, that doesn’t mean charges should be dismissed. 

“It doesn’t matter whether they succeeded or if their beliefs were false,” Philadelphia Assistant District Attorney Andrew Wellbrock told the court. “Police [just] found them before that trouble started.”

Moore agreed, saying there was enough communication between the two men to show what their intent was. It should be up to a jury, he said, to decide if the charges get dropped. He rejected the defense’s request. 

Who Are Antonio LaMotta and Joshua Macias? 

Joshua Macias is a Navy veteran, real estate investment specialist, and was a strategic advisor to the Veterans for Trump group, which he co-founded in January 2016. LaMotta, meanwhile, promotes himself as the head of LaMotta Security, also offering services as a bodyguard and surveillance expert.

The military veteran also appears to have a fascination with the Illuminati, QAnon, Donald Trump, and several Virginia elected officials. In the artwork posted on his website, LaMotta talks about groups fighting the “New World Order”, mostly portraying Donald Trump as the leader of this fight.

In addition to Trump, current Virginia State Senator and Republican candidate for governor Amanda Chase appears in his artwork. LaMotta has her fighting against current governor Ralph Northam.

Thursday marked the second time in three months the men found themselves before a Philadelphia judge. The first post-arrest incident happened in January, as both had to explain why they attended Donald Trump’s rally Jan. 6. 

Under terms of their bail agreement, a judge ordered the men not to attend rallies or use social media. After prosecutors in January showed video putting both men at the scene, the judge raised their bail amount. Macias’ went from $750,000 to $850,000, while LaMotta’s went to $765,000.

Brian Carlton is Dogwood’s managing editor. You can reach him at brian@vadogwood.com.