By Jan Wolfe
(Reuters) – The U.S. Justice Department on Friday extended its streak of victories in jury trials against rioters who stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, securing a guilty verdict in its prosecution of a New Jersey man facing a felony charge.
After less than a day of deliberation, a federal jury in the District of Columbia found Timothy Hale-Cusanelli guilty of all five counts he faced, including obstruction of an official proceeding, a felony carrying a statutory maximum penalty of 20 years in prison.
U.S. District Judge Trevor McFadden will sentence Hale-Cusanelli on Sept. 16.
Hale-Cusanelli is a former member of the U.S. Army Reserves who works as a Navy contractor with a “secret” security clearance and access to weapons, prosecutors said.
An informant told investigators that Hale-Cusanelli was “an avowed white supremacist and Nazi sympathizer” who posts online videos espousing extreme political opinions, the Justice Department alleged in court filings.
Hale-Cusanelli was the fifth Capitol riot defendant to take his case to a jury trial. The Justice Department has secured convictions in all five cases.
Prosecutors have been less successful in the two cases to culminate in non-jury trials. Both of those trials were overseen by McFadden, who partially acquitted one defendant while fully acquitting another.
Video footage from the riot showed Hale-Cusanelli yelling at police officers outside the Capitol complex and entering the building after it was breached.
Hale-Cusanelli’s defense lawyer argued that his client did not realize Congress was counting electoral votes on Jan. 6, 2021, and therefore lacked a criminal intent.
Thousands of people stormed the Capitol that day to try to keep Congress from certifying current President Joe Biden’s victory over then-President Donald Trump, a Republican. More than 800 face criminal charges.
(Reporting by Jan Wolfe; Editing by David Gregorio)