A Kettering man today pleaded not guilty to federal charges of crashing his Jeep last month into steel barriers near the White House, telling a federal judge that he has been taking medication since his arrest for Bipolar Disorder.
In a brief hearing in U.S. District Court, Joseph Clifford Reel spoke in court for the first time, acknowledging that he has been taking medication for the mental illness which also is known as manic depression.
Wearing an orange prison suit and with his hands folded behind his back, Reel spoke in a clear and concise manner as he answered questions from U.S. District Judge Rudolph Contreras.
He told the judge he was 32 years old, a high school graduate and had attended technical college after high school. Reel said he had “reviewed” the charges and understood them.
A status hearing will be held next month in federal court.
A federal grand jury this month charged Reel with causing more than $1,000 in damage to federal property, entering the restricted grounds of the White House without permission, and illegally possessing more than 200 rounds of ammunition.
According to federal prosecutors, Reel rigged the accelerator of his 2008 Jeep Patriot so it could operate without a driver and reach a speech of 45 mph. Shortly after 3 a.m. on June 9, the Jeep slammed into a light post, a steel bike rack and a barrier near the White House, causing at least $7,800 in damage.
After the crash, Secret Service officers saw a man on a bicycle on 17th Street near the Old Executive Office Building, which is next to the White House.
When the man jumped the fence surrounding the EOB — which houses offices for the White House staff — Secret Service officers arrested him.