A Connecticut man who jumped the White House fence on Thanksgiving Day pleaded not guilty Monday in federal court and was permitted to return to Connecticut to live with his mother under electronic monitoring and other restrictions pending a hearing set for Jan. 12.
Joseph Anthony Caputo, 22, wrapped himself in an American flag before scaling the fence and surrendering at around 2:45 p.m. Thursday as President Obama and his family were celebrating the holiday, according to witnesses and U.S. officials.
Caputo pleaded not guilty Monday to one misdemeanor count of illegal entry of restricted grounds. The count was contained in a criminal information, a charging document that indicates he is in negotiations with prosecutors. He faces up to one year in prison if convicted on that count.
Prosecutors agreed to Caputo’s release under terms that also call for Caputo to receive a mental health evaluation by pre-trial services in Bridgeport, Conn. He also must abide by a night curfew from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m., which will enable him to attend college classes while on electronic monitoring, as described in court. Caputo also was ordered to stay away from the District except for meetings with his attorney and for court appearances.
Caputo, who wore a dark suit, gray shirt and tie in court, and his mother declined comment after he entered his plea before U.S. Magistrate Alan Kay of the District.
Authorities said in court documents that Caputo, who lives in Stamford, Conn., left a note contemplating his death with friends he had been staying with in Virginia. Caputo’s attorney said in an interview that he intended no harm, had successfully dealt with Asperger’s syndrome and was carrying a list of proposed government reforms.
Court documents said Caputo was carrying a flag, a flash drive resembling a shield carried by comic book character Captain America and a pocket guide to the U.S. Constitution at the time of his arrest. Caputo allegedly told his arresting officer, “I love my country” and “I knew I would be locked up,” according to a U.S. Secret Service affidavit.
The Jan. 12 hearing to update the status of Caputo’s case is set before U.S. District Judge Christopher R. Cooper.
Caputo apparently wore a pair of weightlifting gloves and Stars and Stripes Converse Chuck Taylor sneakers to climb over new “pencil-point” spikes the U.S. Secret Service installed atop the fenceline earlier this year to slow down intruders.