Aaron Mostofsky Sent Behind Bars for Jan. 6-Related Felony
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‘Caveman’ Costumed Son of Brooklyn Judge Receives Eight-Month Sentence After Felony Conviction Over Jan. 6 Siege

 
Aaron Mostofsky

Aaron Mostofsky (images courtesy FBI)

The son of a Brooklyn judge who dressed up as a self-described “caveman” during the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol received an eight-month sentence on Friday, following his guilty plea to a felony and two misdemeanors.

“What you and others did on that day imposed an indelible stain on how our country is perceived,” U.S. District Judge James Boasberg, a Barack Obama appointee, said.

Aaron Mostofsky, 35, told the judge that he is ashamed of his actions.

“When it started getting chaotic to a point that I had never experienced, I started to make bad decisions,” he said, describing it as similar to a “war” scene.

For Boasberg, it seemed that Mostofsky got wrapped up in a “fantasy” of a stolen election.

“You dressed up as a caveman and acted a role like a fantasy game,” the judge said, adding that Mostofsky’s apparent belief that Donald Trump won in New York reached new heights of conspiracy theorizing.

President Joe Biden won the deep-blue Empire State with more than 60 percent of the vote, in a more than 20-point margin of victory.

“Assaultive Conduct”

Beyond his judicial pedigree and pelt-replete costume, Mostofsky held several other distinctions for prosecutors among the members of the pro-Trump mob.

“He forcibly pushed against officers who were attempting to adjust barriers in the West Terrace area to keep rioters from entering the Capitol building,” prosecutors wrote in a sentencing memo seeking his imprisonment for more than a year. Mostofsky’s defense attorney wanted his client to receive only probation.

In addition to his time behind bars, Mostofsky must serve 12 months of supervised release and perform 200 hours of community service. He will pay $2,000 in restitution, as part of his share of the $2.7 million in damages sustained to the U.S. Capitol on that day.

During the sentencing hearing, Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael J. Romano played footage of Mostofsky engaging with the police line for more than a minute. The prosecutor said that this “assaultive conduct” elevated his charges above mere trespass on Capitol grounds.

“After impeding officers, Mostofsky joined the crowd breaking into the building itself,” the memo continues. “At 2:13 p.m., Mostofsky was the twelfth person to enter the Senate Wing doors, the area where rioters first breached the Capitol building. Mostofsky stole protective gear, a Capitol Police bullet-proof vest and a riot shield, leaving police officers who might have used those items more vulnerable during the violent attack at the U.S. Capitol.”

Telling the court that he now feels sorry for those officers, Mostosfky added: “Nor did I celebrate when any officers were injured.”

Prosecutors claimed to have found evidence that Mostofsky thought his family connections would have protected him.

On Jan. 10, 2021, Mostofsky admitted to trespassing in an encrypted chat on Signal, where he wrote that his “brother is connected to conservative party and my father’s a Judge; so, unlike other situations… [t]hey have nothing on me,” according to the government.

In February, Mostofsky pleaded guilty to a felony charge of civil disorder and two misdemeanor charges of theft of government property and entering and remaining in a restricted building or grounds. Prosecutors called Mostofsky’s sentencing a first for a Jan. 6-related civil disorder conviction, urging the judge to send a message with it.

“Quirky Even by the Standards of His Home City”

Like his conduct, Mostofsky’s costume has spawned many interpretations. Prosecutors said that it signified Mostofsky’s belief that “even a ‘caveman’ would know [the 2020 election] was stolen.” Mostofsky’s defense attorney David B. Smith gave it a pious spin in a sentencing brief: “He wore his 2020 Purim costume, a fur pelt,” referring to a Jewish holiday commemorating the defeat of Haman, who sought to annihilate Persia’s Jews.

According to the defense brief, Mostofsky often plays dress-up.

“To put the matter with understatement, the New Yorker is quirky even by the standards of his home city,” Smith wrote in his defense briefing. “Unable to hear much at the noisy rally, he drifted with the crowd towards the Capitol, cutting a path with a hermit’s gnarled walking stick to the front of an unruly cluster of protesters near police barriers standing in the West Plaza. Even the ones not dressed [as a] raccoon seemed inspired by the delusion that Congress could somehow reverse the outcome of a presidential election held over two months before that point.”

Deploying another image from Jewish culture, Smith told the judge during the hearing: “We’ve described him in the sentencing memo as Zelig,” referring to the shape-shifting “human chameleon” of Woody Allen’s mockumentary.

Three rabbis submitted letters in Mostofsky’s support, reflecting what Smith described as a life of good deeds.

“He is not the Guy Fawkes terrorist that the government is trying to insinuate,” Smith said in court, the Englishman behind the 1605 Gunpowder Plot to blow up the House of Lords and restore Catholic monarchy.

After a series of redactions, the defense briefing diagnoses Mostofsky in “nonmedical Yiddish” as a “luftmensch, a man whose head is in the clouds.”

Smith claims that his client’s caveman comment was an “off-the-cuff remark,” not a “commentary” on what he was doing.

(Photos via DOJ)

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Law&Crime's managing editor Adam Klasfeld has spent more than a decade on the legal beat. Previously a reporter for Courthouse News, he has appeared as a guest on MSNBC, BBC, NPR, PBS, Sky News, and other networks.