Proud Boys ties to pro-crypto political consultant Samuel Armes

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A crypto advocate and US political consultant named Samuel Armes has said he helped form key strategies later outlined in the ‘1776 Returns’ document — a crucial file in the Proud Boys conspiracy case.

An interview between Armes and the US House Select Committee investigating the January 6 insurrection was released among a raft of transcripts last week. It shows that Armes had ties to the Proud Boys through his connections in the crypto industry. However, the links go further back.

Armes previously worked for convicted sex trafficker and crypto fraudster Joel Greenberg, who was sentenced last month to 11 years in prison for a range of criminal behavior.

  • In 2019, Greenberg was Seminole County’s tax collector.
  • He hired Armes to be the area’s ‘Blockchain and Legislative Affairs Director.’
  • Greenberg and Armes were soon after listed as co-managers for an organization called Government Blockchain Systems LLC.

The following year, Proud Boy and Roger Stone protégè Jacob Engels was paid by Greenberg to post a smear campaign against a politicial opponent.

Armes says Jan 6 plans came from US wargame project

In the House Select Committee interview, Armes was questioned about his role in producing the 1776 Returns document, which was used to disseminate plans for organizing the riot at the capitol in 2021. Armes told investigators that he didn’t write the document, but wrote a strategic brief as a reaction to the Transition Integrity Project, a wargame that anticipated disruptions to the 2020 presidential election. 

Specifically, he was writing about what might happen if a president decided not to leave office after losing an election. Armes identified key locations and staging areas that protestors and insurrectionists might use to organize.

Armes confirmed to investigators these sections likely came from his original, three-to-five-page brief. He handed it to a venture capitalist in the Miami crypto community who then gave the document to the leadership of the Proud Boys.

Armes’ interest in crypto provides link to Proud Boys

Since his senior year of high school, Armes had an interest in cryptocurrency. While studying at the University of South Florida, Armes described “getting groomed” for a job in the intelligence community by adjunct professor Walter Andrusyszyn.

He apparently “set up the intel certificate,” where Armes took part in day courses and war games. It led him to take a position with the US Special Operations Command at MacDill Airforce Base in Tampa, where he worked in financial threat assessment. His main focus was the use of cryptocurrency in drug cartels and terror networks

He went on to form the Florida Blockchain Business Association with the help of Erica Flores (rendered in the New York Times as Eryka Gemma) in 2017. Flores, known as the “Queen of Miami,” was a significant influence on Miami’s crypto scene. 

Read more: IRS says ‘revolving door’ good for policing crypto

Only, Armes said the relationship between Flores and Proud Boy leader Enrique Tarrio was a contentious subject among those in-the-know. Armes gave the document to Flores but denied he asked Flores to pass the document to Tarrio. It was at this point in the interview that Armes appears to have developed a cramp in his leg, citing “leg day” as the cause.

Jacob Engels, Armes, and Proud Boys

House select committee investigators seem to have focused on linking Armes to Tarrio and the Proud Boys through Flores and the Miami crypto community. Only, the Proud Boys were working with Greenberg in the summer leading up to August of 2020, when Armes said he began drafting the brief that became 1776 Returns. 

During the time that Armes worked at the Seminole County tax collector’s office, Joel Greenberg used Proud Boy and Roger Stone protégè Jacob Engels to smear his political opponent Brian Beute. Engels served as Enrique Tarrio’s spokesperson for his unsuccessful campaign for congress in 2020. 

Beute, a private school music teacher, later helped form an organization called Save Rural Seminole to oppose a land development project in the county. Greenberg passed a letter to the county commission urging members to instead support it.

  • The letter had been written by Chris Dorworth, a lobbyist and former Florida politician responsible for Rivercross.
  • Greenberg led the commission to believe the ideas were his own.
  • Following this, and amid revelations about Greenberg’s criminal conduct as tax collector, Beute declared he was running against Greenberg in the 2020 Republican primary. 

Both Beute and his partner at Save Rural Seminole, Jay Miller, then received anonymous letters — also sent to their employers — that falsely accused them of criminal misconduct. Beute was accused of sexually assaulting a student. Just three days before Greenberg was indicted in June of 2020, Engels began blogging about the details contained in those letters.

A Facebook post announcing Armes as Seminole County’s Blockchain and Legislative Affairs Director in 2019.

Read more: Indicted Republicans and a dead Belarusian — what happened to Organic Fresh Coin?

Connections between the Greenberg operation and figures like Florida representative Matt Gaetz and Roger Stone have been the subject of scrutiny for several years. The fact that plans linked to the Proud Boys were circulated among January 6 rioters represents yet another tie to high up members of the GOP and other conservative organizations. 

Armes has apparently demonstrated that he was not in the city during the insurrection, but he was invited to DC by an Oath Keeper and had his name on a hotel room for the weekend of January 6. He said James Beeks, the Oath Keeper in question, pursued him as a romantic partner and reserved the room under Armes’ name as part of his unrequited efforts

Armes said he met Beeks through his crypto networks in Florida. He told investigators that he was unaware of the hotel reservation until questioned about it separately by the Department of Justice. He acknowledged that his connections with Flores, Tarrio, and Beeks through Florida crypto circles would not reflect well on his community.

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