Monson Pleads Not Guilty, Surrenders Passport

By Loretta Hunt Jan 28, 2009
Jeff Monson pleaded not guilty to a felony vandalism charge in a Washington court on Tuesday, but he was ordered to surrender his passport despite having two upcoming fights scheduled for outside of the United States.

The former UFC heavyweight contender and professed anarchist told the court he had two fights lined up, one against Ibragim Magomedov on Feb. 28 in Russia and another against Roger Gracie set for March in Japan.

Monson said the prosecution’s claim that he was a flight risk because of his political beliefs was ignorant.

“He doesn’t know what anarchy is,” said Monson. “Anarchy is about everyone having equal rights, everyone having the same ability to be involved in the economic system. It’s about getting along with everyone and loving your fellow man. It was nothing to do with chaos and destruction.”

The grappling world champion told on Tuesday that his attorney has already been granted a hearing on Thursday. As a first-time offender with a family in the area, Monson expects his passport to be returned at that time.

Monson, 37, had been charged with first-degree malicious mischief, a felony carrying a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $20,000 fine.

A native of Olympia, Monson said he’d spray-painted the peace sign, the anarchy symbol, and the phrases “No war” and “No poverty” on multiple columns of the state’s Capital building on Nov. 26.

An ESPN photographer and writer, who were profiling the outspoken political proponent, documented the act, which appeared in a snapshot accompanying the article in the Dec. 29 issue of “ESPN The Magazine.” The photo helped lead to Monson’s arrest, said Washington authorities.

“The maximum I can get for this charge is 90 days,” Monson said Tuesday. “That’s if we don’t negotiate, they don’t drop it down to a misdemeanor. With no priors, with no history, and time for good behavior, I’d be out in 60 [days].”

Monson has had his fair share of legal wranglings in the last few weeks.

On Dec. 19, Monson was arrested for “assault to a female” and “damage to property” following an alleged domestic dispute at the residence of 30-year-old Stephanie Trapani, whom Monson dated, in Advance, North Carolina.

Trapani said Monson “started just bashing holes in the walls and the columns,” in an interview she gave with The Olympian. Trapani said Monson also grabbed her during the argument, which began after Trapani read messages to and from other women on Monson’s cell phone.

“There was no physical contact made with her. Don’t believe everything you read on the Internet. I haven’t been in a fight since third grade, other than what my job entails,” Monson told on Tuesday. “Some property on both sides was destroyed. She’s facing felony charges for identity theft, for fraudulent use of a credit card, for destroying my [old] passport, and larceny.”

Monson has been married for 16 years and has two children in Olympia.

“It was an unfortunate mistake to get involved with someone like that –- someone looking to make a name for themselves,” he said.

Monson spent five days in the Davies County Jail awaiting extradition to Washington for the separate vandalism charge. Every day, he said he recruited other inmates as drill partners while he tried to keep some semblance of a training schedule. Monson said he thought for the remainder of the time, though.

“Some things with my relationships –- with my wife and my loved ones –- have suffered because of my choices,” he said. “Having no one to talk to and no one to turn to and nowhere to run, you start to think about your life and some decisions you made. For the first time in years, I made a commitment to my wife Jen to be the husband and father I need to be. That’s the good thing that came out of this.”
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