WASHINGTON — A federal judge on Thursday sentenced a Nazi sympathizer who had served in the Army reserves to four years in prison for storming the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, saying he had “racist and anti-Semitic motivations” for trying to stop the voter certification process. he distinguishes his case from dozens of other troublemakers who have been charged.
The defendant, Timothy Hale-Cusanelli, 32, was working as a security guard at a naval station in New Jersey when he joined the pro-Trump mob that stormed the Capitol. In a May trial in US District Court in Washington, Mr. Hale-Cusanelli was convicted of five criminal charges, including obstructing the certification of the 2020 election results, which took place in a joint session of the Congress on January 6.
Mr. Hale-Cusanelli, who had a secret security clearance at the time of the attack, tried to downplay his role in the attack by telling the jury that he had no idea Congress was meeting on Capitol Hill. But just before sentencing, Judge Trevor N. McFadden called Mr. Hale-Cusanelli’s testimony a “laughable lie” and an “obvious attempt to avoid responsibility.”
Prosecutors argued at a hearing Thursday that Hale-Cusanelli, who often liked to dress like Adolf Hitler, was leading the mob when its members stormed police and smashed doors and windows to enter the Capitol. Hale-Cusanelli also urged those around him to “move forward” toward the building, prosecutors said.
In a sentencing memorandum filed last week, the government noted that in the days after Jan. 6, Mr. Hale-Cusanelli told his roommate at the naval station that he had been fired up about the assault on Capitol Hill. , comparing it to a “civilian attack”. was.” The memo also said that Mr. Hale-Cusanelli told his roommate that he wanted to “uproot entrenched interests” in the United States, specifically “Jewish interests that manipulate the media, big corporations, the Party Democrat, Joe Biden and the government as a whole.”
After handing down the sentence, Judge McFadden said he believed Mr. Hale-Cusanelli’s past actions reflected a “profound hostility and insensitivity” toward ethnic and religious minorities, which, he added, had significant consequences, including fostering a recent rise in anti-Semitic attacks. in all the country.
While prosecutors said in their memorandum that Mr. Hale-Cusanelli “subscribes to white supremacist and Nazi-sympathizing ideologies,” the jury at his trial saw only a small part of the government’s evidence that he had points of interest. extremist view.
“Hale-Cusanelli is, at best, extremely tolerant of violence and death,” prosecutors wrote. “What Hale-Cusanelli was doing on January 6 was not activism, it was the preamble to his civil war.”
Prosecutors urged Judge McFadden to impose a longer sentence on Thursday, describing Hale-Cusanelli’s decision to storm the Capitol as “testing the railings of the law.”
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Although prosecutors spent much of the trial highlighting the sexist and racist comments Hale-Cusanelli had made before the riots, they insisted on Thursday that the case was not about her right to “hold unsavory views,” but about what which they described as their attempt to evade responsibility.
“He sat in that chair and lied to the jury in this courtroom,” said Kathryn Fifield, a prosecutor. “He sings under oath.”
At the hearing, Hale-Cusanelli’s attorney, Nicholas Smith, acknowledged that his client had made “ugly and childish comments” in the past. But he emphasized that Mr. Hale-Cusanelli had not committed the same crimes as other rioters who brought guns to the Capitol or attacked police officers.
Mr. Smith described his client’s actions as part of coping with difficult parenting and estrangement from his parents. Hale-Cusanelli’s words alone do not “imply that he is about to start a civil war,” Smith said.
While in jail awaiting sentencing, he said, Mr. Hale-Cusanelli had spent long periods in solitary confinement and received death threats from at least one other inmate.
Briefly addressing Judge McFadden, Mr. Hale-Cusanelli said his prison experience left him determined to change.
“I dishonored my uniform and I dishonored this country,” he said.
Hale-Cusanelli became the center of a controversy this month when Cynthia Hughes, who describes herself as her “adoptive aunt,” appeared at a Trump rally in Pennsylvania and spoke about her case. At the rally, Ms. Hughes, who runs a fundraising website that accepts donations for the January 6 defendants, pointed to the nearly two years Mr. Hale-Cusanelli spent in jail before his death. trial as an example of the injustices he faces. those accused in the Capitol attack.
Mrs. Hughes appeared at the sentencing hearing. She was joined by other prominent supporters of the January 6 defendants, including Nicole Reffitt, whose husband, Guy Wesley Reffitt, was sentenced last month to more than seven years in prison, and Ashli Babbitt’s mother, a troublemaker who was fatally shot by police during the attack.
Smith briefly tried to contrast the Hale-Cusanelli case with that of Refitt, who he said committed “meat and potatoes obstruction” by warning his children not to talk to investigators.
So far, more than 850 people have been charged in connection with the January 6 events and arrests continue almost daily. Nearly 300 people have pleaded guilty; about 250 of them have been convicted. Just over half of them have been in jail or prison, with sentences ranging from a few days to 10 years.