Immediately after the jury in Kenosha, Wisconsin, ruled Rittenhouse not guilty, his defense team filed to have the Illinois teen receive the bail money that was raised on his behalf. But a nonprofit led by controversial defamation lawyer and QAnon conspiracy theorist Lin Wood has also filed a motion seeking the money.
“There’s going to be a fight over that,” Rittenhouse attorney Mark Richards said after the verdict.
The money was initially raised after Rittenhouse’s bail was set at a staggering $2 million in November 2020, following a ruling from a court official that Rittenhouse’s hefty potential sentence and potential supporters meant he could become a flight risk. Conservative celebrities like Wood swung into action to raise enough money to get Rittenhouse out of jail ahead of his trial.
The dispute over the bail now centers on who deserves to receive the money now that Rittenhouse is free. The FightBack Foundation, which is run by Wood, claims it deserves the bail money because it raised much of the money, including in the form of a $150,000 loan from former Silver Spoons child star Ricky Schroder. Wood claims he personally guaranteed the loan, meaning he would be on the hook for paying it back if that’s true.
In an interview with The Daily Beast, Wood argued that his foundation is rightfully owed the money. Wood further claims his group spent $700,000 on attorneys’ fees and other expenses for Rittenhouse, aside from the $2 million bail.
“The bail money has to be returned in its entirety to FightBack,” he said.
In his first post-verdict interview with Fox News’ Tucker Carlson that aired Monday night, Rittenhouse tore into both Wood and another former Rittenhouse attorney, John Pierce, claiming he was “taken advantage of” by both men.
According to Rittenhouse, Pierce convinced him that it was “not a good idea” to go home immediately and told the teenager that he’d be “safer in jail” than with his family. Additionally, he said both Wood and Pierce were merely “trying to raise money so they could take it for their own benefit” rather than set him free.
The 18-year-old also asserted that he could have been freed on bond as early as mid-September but his then-lawyers purposely wanted to keep him locked up until Nov. 20 in order to keep bringing in money from donors.
Besides blasting the pro-Trump attorneys for looking to profit off his name, Rittenhouse also blamed Pierce for making the “blatantly false” claim that he was in an “unorganized militia.” Insisting that he didn’t even know what a militia was until he was bailed out, Rittenhouse said he later realized it was Pierce that “painted that narrative.”
Pierce was further taken to task by his former client for apparently having no clue about Rittenhouse’s extradition from an Illinois juvenile facility to Kenosha City Jail in late-October. “I always wanted to be extradited, and I had no problem with that. But he forgot to file the stay and he didn’t even know I was going,” Rittenhouse told Carlson. “So my attorney didn’t know I was going to jail, which is quite sickening because he should have known.”
Wood responded to the claims made on Carlson’s Monday primetime show by telling The Daily Beast that “somebody has fed Kyle misinformation, for whatever reason.”
Pierce did not immediately return a request for comment about the Rittenhouse interview.
Prior to the Rittenhouse interview, Wood insisted his group put up hefty sums to keep the teen out of jail.
“In addition to making the $2 million dollar bail, FightBack paid about $700,000 for his attorneys’ fees and expenses of litigation, including spending money to produce the videotape that was kinda the start to finish of what happened,” Wood said in a call Monday afternoon.
The total bail money, which also included $500,000 contributed by Rittenhouse’s mother Wendy Rittenhouse, was given to the court by then-Rittenhouse lawyer Pierce. Rittenhouse fired Pierce from his legal team in February, but Pierce still holds the receipt for the bail, meaning it would likely go directly to him.
Pierce has faced plenty of debts of his own, and was recently in the news as a go-to attorney for Jan. 6 riot defendants who briefly vanished under mysterious circumstances. But Pierce claims he wants no part of the Rittenhouse money. In a Nov. 8 court filing, Pierce asked a federal court in Texas to decide who should receive the money before he uses the receipt to take it out of the Wisconsin court. In his motion, Pierce wrote that he’s concerned he could face lawsuits from one of the feuding parties if he takes the money out before the legal dispute is settled.
“I have no view on who should get the bail money back,” Pierce told The Daily Beast in an email.
But Wood remains firm on what he says is Pierce’s sticky relationship with the truth.
“John Pierce told us we had to either deliver the money in person or we could send it to his trust account, and he would give [the court] a certified check,” Wood told The Daily Beast. “We then found out, months later, John Pierce, when he paid the bail, said that it was supposed to be returned to him, at his home address. And then we got Pierce to give us a release, because that’s not true.”
Richards has repeatedly slammed Pierce and Wood’s handling of the case in the wake of the verdict. In a Friday interview on CNN, Richards said Pierce and Wood were “trying to whore this kid out for money to their own causes.”
“They were raising tons of money on him,” Richards said.
Richards added that Wood was an “idiot,” and predicted that Wood would sue him over the criticism. The remarks did indeed prompt Wood to send Richards an email threatening to sue him unless the lawyer retracted his claim that Wood is an idiot. So far, Richards hasn’t backed down from the insult.
“There won’t be a retraction for what I said because it’s the truth,” Richards affirmed during a Monday night CNN interview.
Wood, once a renowned defamation attorney, has more recently embraced conspiracy theories like QAnon. In late December, he claimed without evidence that Chief Justice John Roberts is involved in a murderous pedophile cabal.
Along with the bail lawsuit, Wood is facing a bevy of other legal issues, including a disbarment case in Georgia and fraud allegations in a lawsuit pitting Wood against his former partners in a fight over the shares of settlement money from representing Covington Catholic student Nick Sandmann. In August, a federal judge in Michigan referred Wood and other lawyers involved in a botched lawsuit over the 2020 elections for potential discipline from their state bars.
In March, a company linked to Wood was sued by a contractor over work performed on a South Carolina plantation Wood owns. The contractor alleged that Wood’s company never paid its bills for the construction work on the plantation, which is known as “Tomotley.”
“We followed the law,” Wood said. “Other people might be wanting to make money off Kyle, [but] not FightBack.”