U.S. prosecutors get guilty verdict in Capitol riot case, extending win streak

U.S. prosecutors get guilty verdict in Capitol riot case, extending win streak

(C) Reuters. FILE PHOTO: A mob of supporters of then-U.S. President Donald Trump climb through a window they broke as they storm the U.S. Capitol Building in Washington, U.S., January 6, 2021. REUTERS/Leah Millis/File Photo

By Jan Wolfe

(Reuters) – The U.S. Justice Department on Friday extended its streak of victories in jury trials against rioters who stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, securing a guilty verdict in its prosecution of a New Jersey man facing a felony charge.

After less than a day of deliberation, a federal jury in the District of Columbia found Timothy Hale-Cusanelli guilty of all five counts he faced, including obstruction of an official proceeding, a felony carrying a statutory maximum penalty of 20 years in prison.

U.S. District Judge Trevor McFadden will sentence Hale-Cusanelli on Sept. 16.

Hale-Cusanelli is a former member of the U.S. Army Reserves who works as a Navy contractor with a “secret” security clearance and access to weapons, prosecutors said.

An informant told investigators that Hale-Cusanelli was “an avowed white supremacist and Nazi sympathizer” who posts online videos espousing extreme political opinions, the Justice Department alleged in court filings.

Hale-Cusanelli was the fifth Capitol riot defendant to take his case to a jury trial. The Justice Department has secured convictions in all five cases.

Prosecutors have been less successful in the two cases to culminate in non-jury trials. Both of those trials were overseen by McFadden, who partially acquitted one defendant while fully acquitting another.

Video footage from the riot showed Hale-Cusanelli yelling at police officers outside the Capitol complex and entering the building after it was breached.

Hale-Cusanelli’s defense lawyer argued that his client did not realize Congress was counting electoral votes on Jan. 6, 2021, and therefore lacked a criminal intent.

Thousands of people stormed the Capitol that day to try to keep Congress from certifying current President Joe Biden’s victory over then-President Donald Trump, a Republican. More than 800 face criminal charges.

U.S. prosecutors get guilty verdict in Capitol riot case, extending win streak