Lodi-area terror suspect Nicholas Michael Teausant was returned to California this week, more than two weeks after his arrest, and pleaded not guilty Thursday to a charge that he tried to aid a foreign terror group.
The 20-year-old community college student and one-time California National Guardsman made a brief appearance in U.S. District Court in Sacramento, where lawyers from the federal public defender’s office were appointed to represent him and requested a jury trial.
Teausant, who is charged with one count of attempting to provide material support and resources to a foreign terrorist organization, faces a maximum 15 years in prison and a $250,000 fine if convicted.
He did not speak during the hearing, at which he appeared in an orange jail suit with his hands cuffed and shackled to a belly chain.
Teausant was arrested at 11:40 p.m. on March 16 as he attempted to ride a bus into Canada at a border crossing near Blaine, Wash.
The FBI says in a court affidavit that Teausant, a resident of Acampo in San Joaquin County near Lodi, talked of trying to join up with an anti-government rebel organization in Syria and told an FBI informant he was on his way there before he left Lodi on a train.
He arrived from detention in Washington at the Sacramento County jail at 3 a.m. Wednesday, but was not booked into a holding cell until late Wednesday night, according to online jail records.
Teausant declined a request for a jailhouse interview from The Sacramento Bee and his mother did not respond to a request for comment.
He is a convert to Islam who allegedly talked for months of wanting to train freedom fighters in Syria for the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, formerly known as Iraq’s al-Qaida, according to an FBI affidavit and news reports from Syria.
Teausant allegedly discussed his desire to bomb the Los Angeles subway system and cause a civil war that would lead to the collapse of the U.S. government, according to the FBI informant who met with him on a number of occasions, court filings state.
In his appearance before U.S. Magistrate Judge Edmund F. Brennan, Teausant was outwardly calm and composed as he sat at the defense table between Assistant Federal Defenders Benjamin Galloway and Matthew Scoble.
He occasionally looked back into the gallery and smiled at two women who later left with the defense lawyers and declined to talk to reporters.
Brennan ordered him held without bail as a flight risk and a danger to the community pending a bail request by his lawyers. Teausant is scheduled to be back in court May 13 for a status conference.
Scoble told Brennan he anticipates getting “a bond package together in the next couple of weeks.”
Assistant U. S. Attorney Jean Hobler, the lead prosecutor, opposes bail.