Philly judge finds 2 men not guilty in election interference, guilty on weapons charges

The charges stem from the ballot count in Philadelphia on November 6 after the 2020 presidential election.

ByChad Pradelli and Cheryl Mettendorf WPVI logo
Thursday, October 13, 2022
2 convicted of bringing guns to Pa. Convention Center
The charges stem from the ballot count in Philadelphia on November 6 after the 2020 presidential election.

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- A Philadelphia judge has found two men not guilty of election interference after they were arrested during the November 2020 ballot count outside the Pennsylvania Convention Center.

But the judge showed no leniency for Antonio LaMotta and Joshua Macias, finding them both guilty of carrying weapons without a license.

Joshua Macias and Antonio LaMotta both walked out of court, relieved of the not-guilty verdicts but still concerned.

"Gun charges are gun charges," said LaMotta. "We're not guilty of anything. We didn't try to do anything."

SEE ALSO: Judge denies request to revoke bail of men arrested during Philly vote count

Antonio Lamotta, 61 (left) and Joshua Macias, 42 (right)

Macias had no comment but his wife did as she fought back tears and called the prosecution disheartening.

"We did find some justice," said Renae Macias. "We're not happy about the gun charges."

The charges stem from the ballot count in Philadelphia on November 6 after the 2020 presidential election.

A tip came into the FBI stating that someone was driving to Philadelphia to interfere with the election. Macias and Lamotta were stopped by police near the Convention Center where a ballot count was underway. Both were carrying a handgun for which they had a license in Virginia but not Philadelphia.

A search of Lamotta's Hummer turned up an assault rifle and over a hundred rounds of ammunition.

"Joshua Macias was a responsible gun owner. He had a license to carry a concealed firearm in Virginia. He honestly believed that license was valid in PA, which it was until the spring of 2018," said Defense Attorney Alan Tauber.

The prosecution showed text messages where the two discussed arming themselves and LaMotta talked about raiding a truckload of alleged fake ballots.

SEE ALSO: Man accused of bringing weapons to Pa. Convention Center arrested for trespassing on Jan. 6

But little other evidence was presented that the two had a plan to carry out anything sinister.

"Did you worry that may be a problem?" investigative reporter Chad Pradelli asked the men outside the courthouse.

"No, no it was just talk," replied LaMotta.

"These were gentlemen exercising their right to political protest," added Tauber. "They had no ill intent or intention, and I think the judge clearly saw it."

The verdict is yet another blow for District Attorney Larry Krasner.

"He ranted and raved and yelled and hollered and pontificated about this case and got a complete not guilty on every election charge. I think the verdict speaks for itself," said Macias' defense attorney William Brennan.

Antonio Lamotta still faces federal charges related to the storming of the Capitol building on January 6, 2021. Sentencing in this case is scheduled for December 14.

District Attorney Larry Krasner issued this statement on the convictions of Antonio LaMotta & Joshua Macias:

"Thanks to the collaborative investigative work of our partners in law enforcement with the FBI and Philadelphia Police, Antonio LaMotta and Joshua Macias were stopped and arrested as they approached the Pennsylvania Convention Center while armed on November 5, 2020, as election workers were diligently counting Philadelphia's votes in a presidential contest that has proved defining for the course of our nation's history. Since then, my office has worked vigorously to make sure LaMotta and Macias were held accountable for their crimes and denied future opportunities to subvert American democracy, including after both participated in events surrounding the January 6, 2021, insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.

"Following a waiver trial today, the Hon. Lucretia Clemons found LaMotta and Macias guilty of two counts each of Violations of the Uniform Firearms Act. The felony convictions invalidate them from legally purchasing or owning firearms under Virginia law, many other state laws, and federal law. I am incredibly grateful to our prosecutors assigned to the Election Task Force and the Gun Violence Task Force who have worked over the past 23 months to secure these convictions. Let this be a lesson not to illegally bring firearms to Philly's elections. If you commit a crime while seeking to undermine people's right to vote, and to have their votes appropriately counted, you will be held accountable.

"We are grateful to our law enforcement partners at the federal level, who have already federally arrested and charged LaMotta for his participation in the January 6th insurrection. Macias's appearances on video in the company of the leadership of the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers during the eve of January 6 in Washington D.C., during recent hearings of the Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the U.S. Capitol indicate there may be yet more consequences for him, as well.

"While we respect the court's authority and decision today, it seems clear that post-January 6th, the decades-old statute regarding Interference with Primaries and Elections ought to be revisited and improved by the Pennsylvania Legislature. I encourage every Pennsylvanian who loves democracy and equality to vote this November for legislators who will seek to extend democratic participation to all Americans -- not seize it by force or impeachment from political opponents."