Less than a week after losing his bid to await trial outside of jail, a Proud Boy associate seen smashing through a U.S. Capitol window with a police riot shield submitted a court filing distancing himself from the group and signaling willingness to enter into plea negotiations.
“Although the court can play no role in disposition negotiations, via counsel, Pezzola has indicated his desire to begin disposition negotiations and acceptance of responsibility for his actions,” Dominic Pezzola’s lawyer Jonathan Zucker wrote in a footnote at the end of an 11-page motion. “He seeks to make amends.”
On Feb. 15, U.S. District Judge Robin Meriweather described the evidence against Pezzola as “overwhelming” in reaching the determination that he should not be released before trial. One of the videos appeared to show him using a pilfered police shield to gain entry to the Capitol and lighting up a “victory smoke” once inside the building. That footage, widely circulated across social media, made Pezzola one of the most visible figures of the Jan. 6th siege.
— Brendan Gutenschwager (@BGOnTheScene) January 6, 2021
“In addition, the United States proffered that it has spoken to a witness who informed law enforcement that Mr. Pezzola was in a group of people discussing what they had done on January 6 and expressing a willingness to harm anyone they had come across,” Meriweather noted in the order.
Prosecutors describe him as part of a group that wanted to kill House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Vice President Mike Pence. The group wished to return to D.C. on Inauguration Day to kill every “m-fer” they could, that witness told authorities.
In arguing against his pre-trial release, prosecutors pointed to have found a thumb drive in his house filled with do-it-yourself bomb recipes and weapons-making instructions.
Hoping to reverse the pre-trial detention ruling in a new motion on Thursday, Pezzola’s counsel presented a sharply different portrait of his client as a previously law-abiding citizen, Marine Corps veteran, and a married father of two daughters who briefly fell in with the wrong crowd.
“Pezzola’s alleged contact with the ‘Proud Boys’ was minimal and short lived,” the motion states, claiming that their association began this past November and amounted to meeting for drinks in a bar.
Now distancing himself from the group, Pezzola also claims to repudiate the ideas they espoused and claims the convictions that drove him to the Capitol were “honorable but misguided.”
“At the time he was motivated by honorable intentions, believing he was protecting his country from a ‘stolen election’ by corrupt powers,” his motion states. “Since his arrest, having time to reflect and see how things have revealed themselves, he now realizes he was duped into these mistaken beliefs.”
A man describing himself as Pezzola’s friend of more than 20 years attested to this change in his behavior in an letter to the court.
“The last few months he has been influenced by a shady group of people,” the letter states. “They were just manipulating him and using him to carry out their agenda. I can tell you, that this behavior is not the normal behavior of my long-time friend. It is not the lifestyle that he has been living. I know that he is riddled with remorse over his latest actions.”
As for the bomb-making tutorial found in the thumb drive, Pezzola claims that was an unopened copy of what his counsel identified as the “Anarchist Handbook,” a tome commercially available since the 1970s. (This appears to be a reference to the “Anarchist Cookbook,” which dated back to counterculture in opposition to the Vietnam War and included instructions on how to throw a Molotov cocktail, among other things.)
Zucker, who did not respond to an email requesting comment, says in his motion that Pezzola never put those instructions to use. The U.S. Attorney’s office for the District of D.C. did not immediately respond to a press inquiry.
Read Pezzola’s motion to reconsider his pre-trial detention below:
(Image via photo embedded in criminal affidavit/U.S. Dept. of Justice)
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