Michigan GOP gubernatorial candidate Kelley arrested on Jan. 6 riot-related charges

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Michigan GOP gubernatorial candidate Kelley arrested on Jan. 6 riot-related charges

Robert SnellCraig MaugerBeth LeBlanc

The Detroit News

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Allendale — FBI agents arrested Republican gubernatorial candidate Ryan Kelley on Thursday on misdemeanor charges related to the Jan. 6, 2021, riot at the U.S. Capitol, injecting a new round of turmoil into Michigan’s upcoming primary election. 

Ryan Kelley, 40, of Allendale, is a Republican candidate for governor.

Kelley, 40, became one of the highest profile individuals nationally to face charges so far in federal authorities’ ongoing investigation. He declined to answer reporters’ questions after he was released on bond Thursday afternoon.

But he was greeted by a crowd of his supporters outside the court building in Grand Rapids, including GOP attorney general candidate Matt DePerno.

“We love you Ryan,” said one of Kelley’s backers at the end of his initial hearing in a courtroom.

The arrest and search that unfolded at Kelley’s home in Allendale outside of Grand Rapids added more uncertainty to a chaotic race for governor that has seen five Republican candidates blocked from the ballot for submitting fraudulent nominating petition signatures.

Prosecutors filed four charges against Kelley. They are knowingly entering or remaining in a restricted building; disorderly and disruptive conduct; knowingly engaging in any act of physical violence against person or property in a restricted building or grounds; willfully injuring or committing depredation against property of the U.S.

If convicted, Kelley faces a maximum punishment of up to one year in federal prison and a fine of up to $100,000 for each charge. He was freed on a personal recognizance bond following a brief hearing in federal court.

His next hearing will take place over Zoom on June 16.

DePerno, a lawyer from Kalamazoo who has been endorsed by former President Donald Trump for Michigan’s top law enforcement position, said he was disappointed by how authorities handled Kelley’s arrest.

“Ryan is a friend. He’s got a family. He’s got six kids. And the FBI dragged him out of his house in front of his six kids,” DePerno said. “That’s not what we do.”

Kenzi Niewiadomski, one of Kelley’s neighbors in his Allendale subdivision whose sister lives across the street from him, said she witnessed FBI agents leading Kelley away from his home in handcuffs Thursday morning. Kelley’s wife and children left the home with backpacks in hand and got into a family van moments after Kelley was taken into custody, Niewiadomski said.

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