Fur-pelted man photographed with Capitol police shield facing 4 federal charges
By AARON KATERSKY and CELIA DARROUGH, ABC News
(WASHINGTON) — The man who was photographed Wednesday inside the Capitol wearing fur pelts and a bulletproof police vest while holding a Capitol Police riot shield was arrested Tuesday and later released on bond in connection with the Capitol riot led by pro-Trump supporters.
The FBI arrested Aaron Mostofsky, son of a prominent New York judge, at his brother’s home in Brooklyn on Tuesday morning.
Hours later, he appeared in a Brooklyn federal court where prosecutors called his alleged actions “a mob attack and a rampage through the U.S. Capitol.”
Mostofsky, 34, is facing four charges, including felony theft of government property, knowingly entering a restricted building without lawful authority, engaging in disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds with intent to impede government business, and unlawful entry and disorderly conduct, according to a criminal complaint filed Monday.
At the Tuesday court hearing, Assistant U.S. Attorney Josh Hafetz said there is video of Mostofsky “inside of the Capitol with a police officer’s riot shield and appearing to wear a police officer’s bulletproof vest, neither of which he had the right to.”
“We have concerns about Mr. Mostofsky,” Hafetz added.
Mostofsky’s attorney, Jeffrey Schwartz, told the court he believes the evidence will show his client was not part of the mob.
“He was not rampaging. He got caught up in it,” Schwartz said. “He understands how the whole thing in Washington got totally out of hand.”
Judge Sanket Bulsara agreed to release Mostofsky on a $100,000 bond, with restrictions that require him to stay in the New York City area and prevent him from having any contact with any co-defendants or co-conspirators, participating in political gatherings or entering any state capitols.
Regarding the ban on state capitols, Hafetz noted there is a “potential for such gatherings. It is important for Mr. Mostofsky not to engage in the behavior he engaged in yesterday.”
The criminal complaint filed by the FBI included an image captured from a video interview Mostofsky gave to the New York Post, which shows him with the police vest and shield.
“The police riot shield and police vest are items of value belonging to the United States, specifically the US Capitol Police,” the complaint read, noting that the vest is valued at $1,905 and the shield at $256.65.
The complaint cited the Post interview, which appeared to have been conducted inside the Capitol building. During the interview, the complaint pointed out, Mostofsky explained his actions by stating he believed the election was stolen, adding “We were cheated. I don’t think 75 million people voted for Trump — I think it was close to 85 million.”
According to the complaint, Mostofsky indicated in the Post interview that he found the bulletproof vest and the shield on the floor.
Mostofsky’s father, Shlomo Mostofsky, is a Kings County Supreme Court judge.
A spokesman for the judge said the elder Mostofsky had “no knowledge” of what happened in Washington, D.C. The judge declined to comment on his son’s arrest.
A search warrant for Mostofsky’s Instagram account was executed, and records of conversations show Mostofsky confirming the fur-pelted man is him, according to the complaint. A Facebook search also showed that in November 2018, Mostofsky wrote, “Since the republicans lost the house I have the following questions 1 when and where are we protesting/rioting …” the complaint stated.
Many arrests have been made since Wednesday’s riots, including the man photographed in House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office with his feet on her desk, the man photographed carrying Pelosi’s lectern and the man wearing a horned fur hat, as well as a state lawmaker from West Virginia.
Mostofsky faces a maximum of 10 years in prison if convicted of the top charge, 18 USC 641, theft of government property.
“While we all respect each other’s ability to peacefully exercise their First Amendment rights, acts in violation of federal law will not be tolerated,” William F. Sweeney, Jr., assistant director in charge of the FBI’s New York field office, said in a statement. “For those in this area considering participating in future activity similar to Mr. Mostofsky’s alleged behavior, let me be clear: The FBI will find you, arrest you, and do our part to ensure you face the full force of the federal criminal justice system.”
Five people died during the violent siege on the Capitol, including a Capitol Police officer who died from injuries sustained during the attack.
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