Kettering man accused of crashing near White House enters plea

In a brief hearing in U.S. District Court, Joseph Clifford Reel pleaded not guilty to federal charges. Amid signs that prosecutors and Reel’s defense attorney are engaged in efforts to possibly avoid a trial, a status hearing will be held next month.

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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 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. The man was identified as Reel.

A search of Reel ‘s Jeep turned up 200 rounds of ammunition and two machetes but no guns nor explosives. When law-enforcement officials searched Reel ‘s Kettering home, they discovered a Glock 21 .45-caliber pistol, a Taurus .22-caliber gun, a baseball bat with spikes on the barrel, a sword, a spear, two ballistics vests, four hunting knives and a gas mask.

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