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Thursday, July 18, 2024 | Back issues
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California man with digital hit list, plan to infiltrate White House gets time served

Kuachua Brillion Xiong will serve a three-year term of supervised release in the Eastern District of California.

COUNCIL BLUFFS, Iowa (CN) — A Washington, DC-bound California man stopped on a rural Iowa freeway in December 2021 with an AR-15-like rifle, a grappling hook and a plan to gain access to the White House is about to be released from jail to return home the Golden State.

Kuachua Brillion Xiong, 27, will serve out a term of supervised release after U.S. District Judge Rebecca Goodgame Ebinger sentenced him essentially to time served during a hearing at the federal courthouse in Council Bluffs on Tuesday afternoon.

The exact timetable of his release was not certain, but it could be as soon as late Tuesday.

Xiong has been incarcerated for more than 29 months after he was picked up by local law enforcement on Interstate 80 with a roster of public figures he wanted to kill. He pleaded guilty in January to making threats against the president and vice president of the United States. The charge was the second of a five-count redacted indictment handed down by a grand jury in January 2022.

The grand jury said in the indictment that Xiong intended to kill or kidnap President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris.

Ebinger took into account Xiong’s mental health issues, that he was responding ongoing treatment and medication for them and his lack of criminal history when sentencing Xiong to 24 months in prison and a three-year term of supervised release.

The maximum sentence was five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Ebinger told the courtroom the two-year sentence was at the top of the recommended range under federal sentencing guidelines.

“The seriousness of the offense has to be reflected in the sentence the court imposes,” she said.

Lacking the means to do so, Xiong will not have to pay any fine.

Entering the courtroom Tuesday, Xiong, a bespectacled man with a wispy black goatee in short-sleeve orange jumpsuit, waved a shackled hand at his brother and sister-in-law, who sat in the gallery. He will reside with them during his term of supervised release.

Xiong’s attorney, Michael F. Maloney of the Federal Public Defender's Office in Sioux City, asked for an 18-month sentence.

He said his client's brother and sister-in-law supported him in taking his medication. (At no point in the proceeding was the name of the medication he uses nor were the mental health issues Xiong suffers from identified by name.) A probation officer in California has already deemed their home appropriate, Maloney said.

Xiong did not say anything in his defense.

Prosecutor Jason T. Griess of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Des Moines, pointed out Xiong had no prior history of criminal behavior or drug use. His plan was unrealistic. Yet, the offense was serious.

“Mr. Xiong was able to get himself halfway across the country in pursuit of those goals,” Griess told the judge. “There is very little to point to, other than his mental health condition, as the driver here.”

Ebinger also noted childhood trauma, head trauma, physical trauma and mental health issues. Xiong's lack of a prior criminal record was a mitigating factor. But he had also made threats in the presence of law enforcement and, in addition to the firearm, possessed a grappling hook.

An Omaha-based Secret Service agent said in a probable cause affidavit that Xiong had told investigators he had used TikTok to download videos onto his phone and used them to compile a kill list that included Bill Clinton, Barack Obama, Anthony Fauci and Mark Zuckerberg.

And, the agent said, he said he would kill President Joe Biden unless Biden agreed to his demands. Xiong described a plan to gain access to the White House complex and shared a drawing of the White House grounds,

“This is an incredibly serious case,” Ebinger said, pointing out that Xiong had the means, at least in his mind, to attain his goals.

Many documents in the case over the past two and a half years were filed under seal, including at least one psychiatric evaluation.

The case briefly made national news in December 2021 after a sergeant with the Cass County, Iowa, sheriff's office stopped Xiong along eastbound Interstate 80 after a sergeant noticed him "driving aggressively, weaving in and out of traffic, and speeding," according to the sergeant’s account in the affidavit attached to the criminal complaint.

Xiong will serve his term of supervised release in the Eastern District of California. It was not said specifically where in the district his brother and sister-in-law live and they declined to comment when approached by a reporter. But Xiong is from the Sacramento area and the defense's exhibits include a pamphlet for the Sacramento County Mental Health Access Team. He worked at a Merced, California, grocery store shortly before departing on his late 2021 cross-country trip.

If you are having thoughts of suicide, call or text 988, or call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 (TALK). Visit SpeakingOfSuicide.com/resources for a list of additional resources.

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Categories / Criminal, Law, National

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