By Sarah N. Lynch and Mark Hosenball
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Federal prosecutors revealed on Monday they are in preliminary settlement talks with several men affiliated with the Proud Boys group who are facing criminal charges that they conspired to block Congress from certifying President Joe Biden's election victory on Jan. 6.
At the same time, the federal judge presiding over the case denied a bid by one of the defendants to be released from custody pending trial, citing a cache of weapons uncovered in his home as one of many factors in his decision.
During a court hearing in Washington on Monday, prosecutor Erik Kenerson told U.S. District Judge Timothy Kelly that the government "has started having very preliminary discussions about potential resolutions with a couple of counsel in this case."
"It is too early to say whether that's likely to happen or not," he added.
Dominic Pezzola, William Pepe and Matthew Greene are charged in a superseding indictment with conspiring to obstruct Congress and to interfere with police who were working to protect the Capitol from a riotous group of then-President Donald Trump's supporters who stormed the Capitol that day.
They are among more than 550 people to face charges stemming from the Jan. 6 attack. A number of defendants are connected to far-right groups such as the Oath Keepers and the Proud Boys, which describes itself as a group of "Western Chauvinists."
Kenerson did not say which of the three defendants are in early talks about resolving the case.
An attorney for Greene, a resident of Syracuse, New York, and self-proclaimed "first-degree Proud Boy," argued on Monday that his client should be released, noting that he has no criminal history, never destroyed government property and that there is no evidence he brought any weapons to the Capitol.
But Kelly denied the motion, citing the government's evidence.
The government has argued Greene poses a danger, noting that the FBI recovered weapons and a large quantity of ammunition from his home, including an unregistered AR-15 rifle, as well as a variety of other guns, including one that was found in the hidden compartment of a drop-down shelf.
"Mr. Greene is charged with multiple felony offenses, including one Congress has characterized under these circumstances ... as a federal crime of terrorism," Kelly said.
Kelly also cited evidence that Greene reportedly told a witness: "We'll kill them all" - an allegation Greene has denied.
In other developments in Washington on Monday, a man accused of punching a police officer during the Capitol riot and attacking officers with metal police barriers on Monday entered not guilty pleas to nine criminal charges.
A lawyer for Reed Christensen, 62, of Hillsboro, Oregon indicated to U.S. District Judge Thomas Hogan that his client, who is presently on pretrial release, would be seeking a jury trial.
(Reporting by Sarah N. Lynch and Mark Hosenball)