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Two men from New York, newly identified by the Justice Department as members of the Proud Boys, were slapped with additional conspiracy charges Friday in connection to the riot at the U.S. Capitol on Jan.6.
Dominic Pezzola, 43, of Rochester, and William Pepe, 31, of Beacon, were indicted in federal court in the District of Columbia on charges of conspiracy, civil disorder, unlawfully entering restricted buildings or grounds, and disorderly and disruptive conduct in restricted buildings or grounds.
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Pezzola was also charged with obstruction of an official proceeding, additional counts of civil disorder and aiding and abetting civil disorder; robbery of personal property of the United States; assaulting, resisting, or impeding certain officers; destruction of government property; and engaging in physical violence in restricted buildings or grounds.
Pepe and Pezzola were originally charged by criminal complaint and arrested on Jan. 12 and Jan. 15, respectively, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia said in a statement Friday.
Pepe has been suspended from his $73,000-a-year job with the Metro Transit Authority after reportedly calling in sick on Jan. 6 to travel to D.C. for the planned insurrection.
Pezzola seen inside the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6. (Justice Department)
Meanwhile, Pezzola, who prosecutors say also goes by “Spaz,” “Spazzo,” or “Spazzolini,” is now accused of having digital bomb-making manuals on a hard drive recovered from his Rochester residence. He is known for lighting what appeared to be a cigar inside the Capitol while taking a video of himself, saying on-camera he was having a “victory smoke.”
According to the charging documents, both men are members of the Proud Boys, a far-right nationalist group that describes itself as a “pro-Western fraternal organization for men who refuse to apologize for creating the modern world; aka Western Chauvinists.”
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Proud Boys members often wear the colors yellow and black, as well as other apparel adorned with Proud Boys-related logos and emblems, the Justice Department said. It is alleged that both Pepe and Pezzola possess tactical vests branded with the Proud Boys logo, and have attended various Proud Boys gatherings and protests.
Both men allegedly removed temporary metal barricades restricting access to Capitol grounds and stole Capitol Police property. Pezzola is also accused of confronting a Capitol Police officer attempting to control the crowd, ripping away his riot shield.
Another video that has been widely distributed shows Pezzola using that shield to smash a window at the Capitol building, according to the Friday indictment.
Pezzola seen using a stolen police riot shied to smash a window at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6. (Justice Department)
Prosecutors are seeking to keep Pezzola jailed until trial because his “offer to turn himself in to law enforcement did not come until the FBI began knocking on doors in the Rochester, New York area, seeking to speak to family members,” the government wrote in a memorandum seeking pre-trial detention.
FBI agents executing a search warrant at Pezzola’s residence on the day of his arrest recovered a thumb drive that contained hundreds of .pdf files that provided “detailed instructions for making homemade firearms, poisons, and/or explosives,” the memo said.
Prosecutors allege Pezzola stopped using his normal cell phone by Jan. 9 and shaved his beard to conceal his identity before FBI agents knocking on his family’s doors in the Rochester-area eventually prompted him to agree to turn himself in to law enforcement on Jan. 15. (Justice Department)
A series entitled “Advanced Improvised Explosives,” had multiple serials, including “Explosive Dusts” and “Incendiaries;” “The Box Tube MAC-11,” with subtitle, “The UltimateDIY Machine Pistol;” “Ragnar’s Big Book of Homemade Weapons;” and “The Advanced Anarchist’s Arsenal: Recipes for Improvised Incendiaries and Explosives.”
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The government memo states: “All of the above examples contain detailed instructions for how to make the subject matter reflected in their titles, and they are but four of hundreds of similarly titled .pdf files on the recovered thumb drive.”
A witness interviewed by the FBI said members of a group, which included Pezzola, were talking about their participation in the storming of the Capitol and said they would have killed House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and former Vice President Mike Pence if they had been given the chance.
The group allegedly planned to return to D.C. for the presidential inauguration on Jan. 20, according to the memo.
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