Yet another alleged participant in the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol Complex has been undone by social media. Maryland woman Nicole Prado stands accused of unlawfully entering a restricted building, impeding the orderly function of government business and sundry “unlawful activities” in violation of federal law.
At least one of her friends never thought it would come to this–for various reasons. In fact, they were a bit more than effusive about the defendant’s alleged role in the pro-Trump riot that fateful day.
“Please meet the new congresswoman,” Prado’s alleged accomplice (whose name is redacted in official court documents) said in a video posted on Instagram in which the accused’s face appears. “She was just in the Capitol for the first time today. She stormed the Capitol, she’s the new congresswoman. She’s the new speaker of the House.”
This fairly typical detail of anti-Nancy Pelosi commentary among Capitol siege defendants was not the first time the FBI had heard about Prado and her unidentified videographer, however; at least three alleged tips had come in beginning on Jan. 7.
Special Agent Patrick W. Straub claims that those tips quickly led to the discovery of two publicly-available photographs on Instagram.
Court documents identify those photographs as follows:
(1) a Donald Trump flag hanging from a light fixed to the wall from what appears to be inside the Capitol Building with the caption: “It’s the people’s house now”, and (2) a statute of George Washington from what appears to be inside the Rotunda of the Capitol Building:
On the strength of that evidence, a warrant for deeper-diving into the digital realm was eventually okayed by a federal judge in late February.
The redacted individual “had deleted the account several days after the Capitol riot and the incriminating media was not included in the returns; however, the returns did include private conversations with another account from January 7, 2021, speculating whether ‘they’ll seek charges,’ including ‘trespassing charges,'” according to a statement of facts contained alongside Prado’s arrest warrant.
A “statement of facts” is just a name given to a document prepared by the government used in the prosecution of a criminal defendant; such documents often contain law enforcement opinions and extrapolations as well as legal conclusions; these statements should never be construed as actually containing verified facts or only facts.
Here, the government alleges that a third person, whose identity is also obscured in the court documents, replied to Prado’s alleged accomplice with a message to relax.
Special Agent Straub describes this alleged advice:
The other participant responded to [redacted] suggesting they “ain’t gonna go after Nicole” and then discussed the Instagram posts: “that’s not evidence—[redacted] screenshot . . . is Nicole on camera . . . But they would have to cross reference too much. Do police have her fingerprints and mugshot? . . . It’s only corroborating but its weak.”
Law enforcement may or may have had Prado’s fingerprints on file–they aren’t saying. But they did have access to her drivers license information–as well as that of her alleged accomplice–by way of the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration.
“These photographs appear to depict the same people who are in the above described video discussing having stormed the Capitol Building,” the affidavit notes.
The FBI also obtained access to Prado’s cellular data and determined that the defendant “came to Washington, D.C. earlier than” her alleged accomplice “in the morning of January 6, 2021 and that she was near or around the Capitol.”
The government also claims that an “ongoing” review of closed circuit television footage from inside the Capitol during the riot returned additionally incriminating evidence–and this final piece of evidence brings the claims against Prado all the way back home. In a digital doom sort of sense at least.
Straub writes that he saw “an individual who physically resembled Prado walk though several rooms in the Capitol Building during an approximate five minute period” and that this person continued on “through the Capitol Building Rotunda before stopping to use her cell phone to take one of the pictures that [redacted] later posted on Instagram.”
Read the full document below:
[images via U.S. Department of Justice]
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