The fur-clad son of a Brooklyn judge is due to be released from prison next month. A former Army reservist who impersonated Hitler is locked up at the federal prison at Fort Dix until 2024. And a conservative influencer who cooperated with the federal government is now swearing that he's not a snitch.
Two years after the violent attempt to overrun the U.S. Capitol and overturn the 2020 election, Gothamist reviewed the cases of those from New York and New Jersey who were charged with federal crimes stemming from their alleged actions that day. Many who stormed the steps of Congress on Jan. 6, 2021 stayed out of prison, and were sentenced to just fines, probation, or home detention. Some are awaiting trial or sentencing. Others have already finished brief sentences.
Here’s the latest on some of the more prominent cases:
Currently on trial
Roberto Minuta: One of only 11 people charged with the serious and rarely invoked federal crime of seditious conspiracy, this Oath Keeper — who formerly lived in Hackettstown, NJ, and owns a tattoo parlor in Newburgh, NY — is now on trial alongside three co-defendants. Two fellow members of the Oath Keepers, an antigovernment organization made up of former police officers and soldiers, were convicted of seditious conspiracy last month, two more pleaded guilty and three were acquitted of the conspiracy charge but found guilty of other charges.
Minuta, 38, is alleged to have worked security for Donald Trump operative Roger Stone and stormed the Capitol in a military-style formation while armed with bear spray and wearing tactical gear. The government says that as a member of an organized militia, Minuta conspired to launch the attack.
Minuta has been out on bail since his arrest in 2021, after which he posted a video on Facebook: “I’m praying for all of you who have such hate in your hearts that you find it necessary to destroy an already broken man. So bless you, I’m praying for you because that hate in your heart is going to take you down.”
Dominic Pezzola: One of the most high-profile trials stemming from the riot is set to begin later this month as prosecutors bring another seditious conspiracy case against five members of the Proud Boys, including the neo-fascist group's leader, Enrique Tarrio, and Pezzola, a member from Rochester, NY.
Prosecutors say Pezzola – nickname Spaz – was the "first to breach the Capitol," using a riot shield to smash through the building's window. Now 45, he was also allegedly seen on camera chasing a police officer through the halls of the building. Pezzola faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted.
Serving Prison Sentences
Thomas Webster: Webster, 56, a retired NYPD officer who swung a flagpole at a Washington police officer and choked him with his own chinstrap, was sentenced in September to 10 years in prison, the longest term handed down so far to any of the U.S. Capitol rioters. During the trial, prosecutors noted that Webster, a former Marine who once served in Mayor Michael Bloomberg's security detail, brought an NYPD-issued bulletproof vest, suggesting the violence was premeditated.
At Webster's sentencing, Judge Amit Mehta described him as a victim who was "brought to a place where his mind and his otherwise sense of equilibrium, his patriotism, his sense of self are lost."
"I think you were caught up in a moment, and as you well know, even being caught up in a moment has consequences," Mehta added.
Webster is not the only former NYPD officer to face charges for participating in the riot. Sara Carpenter, 53, a retired NYPD spokesperson who was seen on video shaking a tambourine inside the Capitol rotunda, is currently awaiting trial on charges of violent entry and disorderly conduct.
Scott Fairlamb: A former North Jersey gym owner and one-time MMA fighter, Fairlamb, 45, pleaded guilty to obstruction and assaulting an officer. Fairlamb was caught on video cursing at, shoving and punching an officer in the head.
In 2021, Fairlamb was sentenced to three years and seven months in prison. Currently held at a federal prison in North Carolina, he is due to be released in November. Last month, in a note on an online fundraising page set up by his wife, Fairlamb called himself a “political prisoner” and said he should be released to a halfway house because he has cancer.
Timothy Hale-Cusanelli: Hale-Cusanelli, a 32-year-old former Army reservist, used tactical hand signals to guide protesters into the Capitol and was one of the first to breach the building, federal prosecutors said. They argued that he harbored extremist views, and even grew a Hitler mustache at his security job at New Jersey’s Naval Weapons Station Earle, where colleagues told authorities he regularly made antisemitic remarks.
Hale-Cusanelli was convicted last year and sentenced to four years in prison. He's being held at Fort Dix in South Jersey and is due to be released in June 2024. He has claimed to be half-Jewish, and attributed his interest in Hitler to being a history buff.
Sam Fisher: Known online as Brad Holiday, Fisher, 33, was one of several self-described "pick-up artists," or misogynistic anti-feminists, to face charges in connection with the riot. He was arrested weeks after the attack on the Capitol, at which point FBI agents discovered a cache of weapons inside his Upper East Side apartment -- including a semiautomatic rifle, bulletproof vest and thousands of rounds of ammunition.
Fisher, who dabbled in the QAnon conspiracy and ran a YouTube page dedicated to "help[ing] men get high-value girls," had repeatedly posed online with his firearms, promising to "bring the pain upon" Trump's enemies.
He was sentenced this past April to three-and-a-half years in prison after pleading guilty to criminal possession of a weapon in the second degree. He will not serve additional prison time for his role in the riot.
Aaron Mostofsky: Walking the halls of Congress draped in a coat of fur pelts and carrying a police riot shield, this Midwood resident was among the most visually memorable of the Jan. 6 rioters. He's also the son of a Brooklyn Supreme Court Judge Schlomo Mostofsky.
When Mostofsky, 35, pled guilty earlier this year to felony civil disorder, his attorney included several letters of support from local rabbis. At his sentencing hearing, Judge James Boasberg suggested those letters accounted for his relatively light prison sentence of eight months — seven fewer than the government had requested and below the federal guidelines.
"It seems that perhaps, like your interest in ‘Star Wars’ and other fantasy that I read about, that you somehow got sucked into the fantasy of a stolen election," Boasberg said. "I hope that you will leave some of that fantasy world behind."
Mostofsky is due to be released next month.
Sentenced to probation
Thomas Fee: Fee, a 54-year-old retired FDNY firefighter, was seen on video roaming the U.S. Capitol building for roughly 40 minutes. At points, he appeared to offer direction to others, encouraging them to come further into the building, according to Judge John Bates.
But while Bates found the defendant played an “active engagement role” in the riot, the judge declined to impose the prosecution’s recommended sentence of 30 days in prison, citing Fee’s “commendable public service” in the FDNY. Instead, Fee was sentenced to 24 months of probation in July.
Brandon Straka: At the start of 2022, Straka's case appeared largely resolved. The conservative influencer and frequent Fox News guest pleaded guilty to misdemeanor charges of disorderly conduct in January. He received a sentence of 36 months of probation.
But the case gained new salience this past summer, when a court clerk accidentally unsealed records showing the extent of Straka's cooperation with the FBI. According to those records, Straka, 45, provided "significant information" to federal investigators about lead organizers of the "Stop the Steal" rally. The cooperation came after Straka told his followers, in the midst of the riot, that those at the Capitol were "freedom-loving Patriots," adding that “everyone else can denounce them. I will not.”
In an apparent attempt at damage control, Straka made several media appearances denouncing the federal government and casting doubt on his statements made prior to the sentencing. Those remarks prompted rebuke from District Court Judge Dabney Friedrich in August, who implied his conduct could impact his probationary supervision. Nevertheless, Straka has continued to assert that he was a victim of a government conspiracy, tweeting as recently as this week that the government had told "thousands of lies" about Jan. 6.
Reached by phone, Straka declined to discuss the specifics of his case, maintaining that coverage of his case was “coming from people who are politically motivated.”
Marissa Suarez: A former corrections officer in Monmouth County, NJ, Suarez, 33, went to the Capitol with her friend and co-defendant, Patricia Todisco, 34. Both pleaded guilty last year to parading, demonstrating or picketing the Capitol building, and were each sentenced to fines and three years probation. Their clean criminal records and a lack of evidence indicating that they were involved in violence that day helped them avoid prison time.
Suarez sent text messages after the riot that read, “Sooo we’ve stormed Capitol Hill lol,” and “When we found out Pence f--ked us, we all stormed the Capitol building and everyone forced entry and started breaking s--t.” She resigned from Monmouth Correctional Facility after her arrest and now works at a tanning salon, according to a court memo from her attorney.
Christopher Quaglin: Prosecutors allege that Quaglin, an electrician from New Brunswick, NJ, was affiliated with the Proud Boys when he assaulted police officers protecting the Capitol. They say he used pepper spray on the officers, and stole one of their riot shields, yelling: “You’re on the wrong f--king side!”
In the weeks after Trump’s election loss, Quaglin had pledged on social media that he was “going to war” and reserved multiple hotel rooms in Washington for Jan. 6. After the attack, he posted a video from one of those rooms: “It was a great time, I got bumps and bruises.” His trial is scheduled for later this year.