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September 26, 2022

Nazi sympathizer and Jan. 6 rioter who claimed he didn’t know Congress met at Capitol to be sentenced Thursday

Nazi sympathizer and Jan. 6 rioter who claimed he didn’t know Congress met at Capitol to be sentenced Thursday

WASHINGTON — A Jan. 6 rioter who has dressed up as Adolf Hitler and held a security clearance is scheduled to be sentenced in federal court judge Thursday.

Timothy Hale-Cusanelli, 32, of New Jersey, who was an Army reservist when he stormed the U.S. Capitol in January 2021, was convicted in May after he failed to convince jurors that he didn’t know that Congress met at the Capitol, a claim he made on the stand to avoid a conviction for obstruction of Congress.

“I know this sounds idiotic, but I’m from New Jersey,” Hale-Cusanelli told jurors when he said he didn’t know Congress met at the Capitol. “I feel like an idiot, it sounds idiotic, and it is.”

U.S. District Judge Trevor McFadden, a Trump-appointed judge who oversaw Hale-Cusanelli’s trial and will sentence him, said his testimony was “highly dubious” and indicated that he was open to a sentencing enhancement.

Federal prosecutors are seeking 6½ years in prison. Hale-Cusanelli was convicted on all five counts he faced, including a felony charge of obstruction of an official proceeding.

In a government sentencing memo, federal prosecutors referred to Hale-Cusanelli’s “enthusiasm for civil war and his well-documented history of violent rhetoric” and argued that significant prison time is warranted because of his background and his false statements on the stand.

“A student of history and government who had previously explained the intricacies of Presidential election procedure to his friends, Hale-Cusanelli falsely testified at trial that he did not know that: (a) ‘Congress’ sat in the Capitol building; (b) the Electoral College Certification Proceeding was taking place in the building; and (c) when he entered the Capitol, members of Congress were still there, having fled and hidden from the mob,” they wrote. “Hale-Cusanelli lied on the stand.”

Prosecutors also said Hale-Cusanelli “subscribes to White Supremacist and Nazi-Sympathizer ideologies that drive his enthusiasm for another civil war.” The jury saw only a fraction of the government’s evidence of extremist views held by Hale-Cusanelli, a former security contractor who previously had a “secret” security clearance.

“Hale-Cusanelli is, at best, extremely tolerant of violence and death,” prosecutors said. “What Hale-Cusanelli was doing on January 6 was not activism, it was the preamble to his civil war.”

Hale-Cusanelli’s lawyer said in a defense sentencing memo that the court will hear from Hale-Cusanelli “that he regrets his actions, deplores the violence and property destruction at the Capitol, and apologizes to members of Congress, congressional staff, and law enforcement for his part in the events.”

Timothy Hale-Cusanelli.U.S. District Court

The government sentencing memo refers to Hale-Cusanelli’s adoptive aunt, Cynthia Hughes, who spoke at a Trump rally in Pennsylvania this month. The memo mentions her role with the Patriot Freedom Project, a group that has supported Jan. 6 defendants, and points to publicly reported information that prosecutors say “fairly supports an inference that Hale-Cusanelli and Hughes have used the January 6 attack on the Capitol and the notoriety of Hale-Cusanelli’s case — which Hughes herself has exacerbated via her public and media appearances — to enrich themselves.” A footnote in the government’s memo mentions former President Donald Trump’s rally on Sept. 3.

Hughes wrote a letter in support of Hale-Cusanelli, saying he “is not a violent person; he doesn’t walk around the streets of NJ looking like Hitler.”

Even though government court filings noted that 34 of Hale-Cusanelli’s co-workers told investigators that he held “extremist or radical views pertaining to the Jewish people, minorities, and women”; that he attended a Black Lives Matter protest carrying a “clipboard full of statistics” in hopes someone would “debate him” about differences between races; and that he was arrested with two others 12 years ago and accused of using a “potato gun” bearing the words “WHITE IS RIGHT,” his aunt said in a letter to the court that there “is not a racist bone in his body.”

Prosecutors say it is clear Hale-Cusanelli isn’t sorry about his actions on Jan. 6.

“Hale-Cusanelli’s self-serving statements at trial that he was wrong to enter the Capitol and that he was sorry that he did should be given the same weight as his self-serving claims that he did not know Congress was in the Capitol building — which is to say, none,” they wrote.

His sentencing is set for 10:30 a.m. ET.

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