A Key Largo man accused of shooting at a U.S. Coast Guard crew last summer is asking a judge if he can live in North Carolina with friends until his scheduled trial in April.
Daniel Michael Szabo, 40, faces life in prison for two of the four charges the federal government filed against him -- trying to kill a Coast Guard officer during a boarding and using a firearm while committing a violent crime. Szabo allegedly led a Coast Guard crew on a wild chase in Key Largo Sound on Aug. 21.
His attorney, Assistant Federal Public Defender Stewart Abrams, last week filed a motion with U.S. District Court Judge Jose Martinez to allow a two-part bond — 10 percent of a $200,000 bond, and a $100,000 personal surety bond.
The $20,000 would be paid for by Szabo's friend in Atkinson, N.C., Jeri Bonomo, with whom Szabo worked for two years. He also previously lived with Bonomo and her husband.
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The $100,000 bond would be co-signed by Szabo's "longtime friend," Earl Lewis, who also lives in North Carolina.
"The people who know [Szabo] best, i.e. Ms. Bonomo and Mr. Lewis, are prepared to pledge substantial assets as assurance to this court that Defendant will abide by all conditions of his bond," Abrams wrote. "Additionally, if [Szabo] is released and resides in North Carolina, he will be in a familiar environment in which he has many friends, he will have a job and he will not be isolated as he was while living in Key Largo."
The U.S. Attorney's Office is asking Martinez to deny the motion. The court imposed a $100,000 surety bond shortly after Szabo was arrested that contained a so-called Nebbia provision -- meaning Szabo would need to prove the money came from a legitimate source. At least 10 percent of the bond was apparently paid, because Szabo was released from federal custody on Dec. 3.
According to court papers, on Aug. 21, a Coast Guard boat patrol crew encountered Szabo -- who was in a dinghy floating in Key Largo Sound -- after receiving reports he had a handgun and was threatening suicide.
Szabo saw the Coast Guard boat and fled in his dinghy. As the Coast Guard boat gave chase, Szabo fired six shots at the pursuing vessel, according to court papers.
Szabo crashed his dinghy into the mangroves. When the Coast Guard crew caught up with him, he had a lit cigarette and a can of ether. He told the Coast Guard crewmen he would blow himself up if they got too close.
After about 30 minutes, Szabo took off again in his dinghy, prompting the Coast Guard boat to go after him. Szabo rammed the Coast Guard craft several times with the dinghy, before the crew eventually fired pepper spray into his vessel and subdued him.
"Despite a lack of a criminal history, his actions on the evening of August 21, 2015 clearly showed his intent to harm himself and others, including federal law enforcement officers," Jeremy McCall, special assistant U.S. Attorney, wrote in a Jan. 6 motion to Martinez.