Accused Pier 39 plotter denied bail

A Modesto man accused of attempting to aid a foreign terrorist organization by planning a Christmas Day attack on Pier 39 in San Francisco was denied bail at a federal court hearing in Fresno Thursday.

U.S. Magistrate Erica Grosjean said in a detention order that Everitt Jameson, 26, is a potential danger to the community and that no conditions of release would reasonably assure the safety of others while he is awaiting trial.

Jameson, who recently worked as a tow truck driver, was arrested in Modesto on Dec. 22 following a two-month FBI investigation that began with a confidential informant reporting that Jameson was “liking” and “loving” Facebook posts that were pro-ISIS and pro-terrorism.

Jameson is charged in a federal criminal complaint in the U.S. District Court for Eastern California with one count of attempting to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization.

If convicted, he would face a possible maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.

Jameson’s next court date is an appearance before Grosjean on Jan. 5 for a preliminary hearing or a possible arraignment if the complaint is replaced with a grand jury indictment.

Jameson told the confidential informant, who presented herself on social media as a Muslim woman, that he converted to Islam in Merced two years earlier.

In an affidavit filed with the Dec. 22 criminal complaint, FBI agent Christopher McKinney said he believed the terrorist organization Jameson wanted to aid was ISIS. He said Jameson believed that an undercover FBI agent he met with on Dec. 16 was affiliated with the senior leadership of ISIS.

The affidavit alleges that during that meeting and other conversations, Jameson talked to the undercover agent about carrying out an attack during the week of Dec. 18 to 25 that might use a combination of a vehicle, explosives and guns.

Jameson allegedly suggested that Pier 39 in San Francisco was a target location because it was a heavily crowded area, and allegedly said Christmas was the perfect day to commit the attack.

The agent allegedly asked Jameson if he wanted to write a statement about the attack, since Jameson expected to die in the assault, and Jameson told the agent later on Dec. 16 he had done so.

Two days later the investigation took a different turn when, according to the affidavit, an unidentified FBI employee accidentally called Jameson’s cell phone from a telephone number with a Washington, D.C., area code.

The employee hung up when Jameson answered in Arabic, but Jameson called back the number and heard a message that gave the staff member’s name but not the name of the agency.

Later that evening, Jameson told the undercover agent by phone, “I also don’t think I can do this after all. I’ve reconsidered,” according to the affidavit.

The FBI searched Jameson’s Modesto home on Dec. 20 and found his Dec. 16 handwritten statement taking responsibility for “these acts,” a last will and testament dated Dec. 16, two rifles, a handgun and ammunition. In an interview with FBI agents during the search, Jameson stated his support of ISIS and terrorism, according to the affidavit.

Jameson earned a sharpshooter qualification during U.S. Marine Corps recruit training in 2009, but was discharged from the service because he failed to disclose a history of asthma, the affidavit said.

Grosjean said in the detention order that the evidence that caused her to conclude that Jameson was a danger to the community included the factors that the alleged offense is a serious crime; that the weight of the evidence against him is high; that he “appears to have a mental condition” that may affect whether he will appear at court hearings; that he has a history relating to drug abuse; and that he has no known substantial financial resources.