An Army Reservist from New Jersey who has what prosecutors describe as an “affinity” for Adolf Hitler has been convicted of five charges, including one felony, for participating in the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol.
A jury convicted Timothy Hale-Cusanelli, 32, after a few hours of deliberation on Friday. It’s the fifth jury trial victory in the federal government’s expansive prosecution of the participants in the riot at the Capitol, when an angry crowd of thousands of Donald Trump supporters, angry about the results of the 2020 presidential election, converged on the building and temporarily forced a stop to the certification of Joe Biden‘s electoral win.
The case was before U.S. District Judge Trevor McFadden, a Trump appointee who has overseen two bench trials of Jan. 6 defendants, one of which resulted in a full acquittal.
According to prosecutors, Hale-Cusanelli drove to Washington, D.C. the morning of Jan. 6, and joined a group of rioters that had pushed past police trying to guard the Capitol. He urged others to “advance” on the Capitol, and was among the first wave of rioters to breach the building at 2:12 p.m. at the Senate Wing Door.
Prosecutors say he stayed inside for about 40 minutes, during which time he harassed Capitol Police and told them a “revolution” was coming. In the days following Jan. 6, he reportedly told a friend that breaching the Capitol was “exhilarating” for him, that he was hoping for a “civil war,” and that the “tree of liberty must be refreshed with the blood of patriots and tyrants.”
He was enlisted in the U.S. Army Reserves at the time. He had also worked as a contractor at a local naval weapons station, where he had “secret” security clearance, the DOJ says. He has since been barred from the facility.
At his trial, which began on Monday, Hale-Cusanelli reportedly said that he tried to defend himself by essentially pleading ignorance. According to a report from NBC News, Hale-Cusanelli said he didn’t know that the Capitol was where the House and Senate conduct their business, and that he didn’t know that lawmakers were inside the Capitol building on Jan. 6.
“I know this sounds idiotic, but I’m from New Jersey,” Hale-Cusanelli reportedly testified on Thursday. “I feel like an idiot. It sounds idiotic, and it is.”
“I didn’t know the Capitol building was the same as the congressional building,” Hale-Cusanelli also said, according to NBC.
The jury wasn’t convinced, and neither, apparently, was McFadden. According to NBC, after the verdict, McFadden said that he was open to giving Hale-Cusanelli—who, despite his proclaimed ignorance, had also testified at trial that he had closely followed the electoral college certification process—a sentencing enhancement because he found his testimony to be “highly dubious.”
Hale-Cusanelli was ultimately convicted of obstruction of an official proceeding, a felony, and four misdemeanors: entering and remaining in a restricted building or grounds, disorderly and disruptive conduct in a restricted building or grounds, disorderly conduct in a Capitol building, and parading, demonstrating, or picketing in a Capitol building.
Court documents show that Hale-Cusanelli was not shy in expressing his love of Hitler and his enthusiasm for the Nazis’ genocidal goals. Several people who knew Hale-Cusanelli told federal investigators that the defendant expressed support for killing Jews and “babies born with any deformities or disabilities,” and had bemoaned that “Hitler should have finished the job.” One interviewee told investigators that Hale-Cusanelli “spoke of his dislike of Jews every day.”
Unsurprisingly, Hale-Cusanelli also didn’t like women, minorities, and immigrants. Court documents contain numerous examples of the defendant espousing his support for white supremacist ideology and the repeated use of racist memes and anti-Black slurs.
Although Hale-Cusanelli’s views were well-known among his colleagues, they apparently were afraid to report him because he was “crazy” and they felt they would be in danger if he found out.
According to NBC, the jury was not shown all of Hale-Cusanelli’s texts because McFadden had ruled that including such comments would be prejudicial.
Hale-Cusanelli has been in federal custody since his arrest on Jan. 15, 2021. He faces up to 20 years in prison on the federal obstruction charge, while two of the misdemeanor charges carry a one-year sentence each and two charges carry a maximum six months behind bars.
McFadden set his sentencing for Sept. 16.
[Image via DOJ.]
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