A pork lobbyist and farmer from South Carolina who police say tried to bring a gun into a congressional office building was released from jail Thursday on a felony firearms charge.
A D.C. Superior Court judge ordered Ronald William Prestage, 59, to check in by phone with pretrial officials once a week as a condition of his release. He must return to the District Aug. 13 for a preliminary hearing.
Prestage was arrested Wednesday morning at the Rotunda entrance to the Cannon House Office Building. U.S. Capitol Police said he had a loaded 9mm Ruger handgun in his briefcase, which was found during a routine search.
In court documents filed Thursday, police said the gun had six bullets in a magazine and one round in the chamber. The documents state that the gun was in a black “Uncle Mike’s” ankle holder. The court papers says Prestage told police he has a conceal carry permit in South Carolina; the District has one of the county’s tightest gun laws.
Prestage, who lives in Camden, S.C., was charged with carrying a handgun outside a home or office. Authorities said they believe he was headed to a meeting in the Cannon Building. He is the president of Prestage Farms of South Carolina, a turkey and hog farm, which has corporate headquarters is Clinton, N.C.
Prestage is the president-elect of the National Pork Producers Council, an industry lobbying group. A spokesman said he was not on group business at the time of his arrest. He also is on the board of trustees for North Carolina State University.
Prestage Farms spokeswoman Summer Lanier did not return calls seeking comment on Thursday. Prestage’s attorney, Robert J. Spagnoletti, also did not respond to interview requests.
It was the second time in five days that police said they caught someone with a gun at the Cannon Building. Last Friday, the press secretary for a Pennsylvania Republican was charged with a gun offense; his attorney said he forgot he had the weapon in a bag.