A man linked by prosecutors to both the Oath Keepers and Republican strategist Roger Stone was arrested Monday in New York and charged with criminal involvement in the breach of the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6.
Roberto Minuta, 36, of Hackettstown, N.J., is accused of obstructing the formal counting of presidential election votes, trespassing and attempting to cover up his crimes.
Prosecutors say Minuta came to the Capitol dressed in gear identifying him as a member of the right-wing Oath Keepers group — citing a video in which he appears with Stone that morning. Federal prosecutors have alleged that members of the Oath Keepers conspired to storm the Capitol to prevent President Biden from taking office.
The Justice Department and the FBI are investigating whether Stone and other high-profile right-wing figures played a role in the insurrection by promoting false claims that the election was stolen from former president Donald Trump. Stone, a longtime Trump friend and adviser, was involved in events on Jan. 5 and Jan. 6 but says they were peaceful protests. While investigators are interested in how the rioters became radicalized, they caution that criminal charges against Stone and others who spread misinformation are a distant prospect given case law on incitement and free speech.
Stone did not immediately return a request for comment, and Minuta has not yet been appointed counsel. Stone has publicly distanced himself from the violence and criticized it, saying that there is no evidence he had knowledge of the attack and that any implication otherwise is “guilt by association.”
In a charging document, prosecutors note that Minuta was made a “lifetime Oath Keeper” last year after pledging to open his New York tattoo parlor in defiance of restrictions related to the novel coronavirus.
According to prosecutors, on Jan. 6 Minuta “aggressively taunted and berated law enforcement officers guarding the Capitol” both outside and inside the building. After the riot, prosecutors say Minuta deleted the Facebook account he had used for the past 13 years.
Isaac Sturgeon, 32, of Dillon, Mont., also appeared in federal court in New York on Monday on charges related to the Capitol riot after being deported from Kenya. Sturgeon, who is accused of assaulting police with a metal police barricade, flew to Africa a few weeks after the attack and planned to stay through April, according to court records.