WASHINGTON — A Jan. 6 rioter who disguised himself as Adolf Hitler and had a security clearance was sentenced to four years in federal prison during a hearing Thursday.
Timothy Hale-Cusanelli, 32, of New Jersey, who was an Army reservist when he stormed the US Capitol in January 2021, was convicted in May after he failed to convince a jury that he did not know Congress met on Capitol Hill, a claim he made on the dais to avoid a conviction for obstruction of Congress.
“I know it sounds idiotic, but I’m from New Jersey,” Hale-Cusanelli told the jury when he said he didn’t know Congress met on Capitol Hill. “I feel like an idiot, it sounds like an idiot, and it is.”
U.S. District Judge Trevor McFadden, a Trump-appointed judge who oversaw the Hale-Cusanelli trial, earlier said the defendant’s testimony was “highly questionable” and indicated he was open to a sentence upgrade. On Thursday, McFadden called the claim that Hale-Cusanelli did not know Congress met on Capitol Hill was a “laughable lie” and an “obvious attempt” to avoid responsibility.
Judge McFadden said Hale-Cusanelli “absolutely knew” that Congress met on Capitol Hill, noting that he had even told his roommate that he was out of the House on January 6. McFadden also said that he was “appalled” for Hale-Cusanelli. Cusanelli’s speech to a female officer on January 6, in which he called her an unprintable word.
Hale-Cusanelli told the judge before her sentencing that she owed members of Congress and law enforcement an apology.
“I dishonored my uniform and I dishonored the country,” he said. “I say ugly things” that are “disgusting” in the eyes of many, she said. He assured the judge that he “would never see my face in court after this” and that her time in solitary confinement had changed who she was.
Federal prosecutors had asked for 6.5 years in prison. Hale-Cusanelli was convicted of all five charges he faced, including felony obstruction of official proceedings. McFadden found, however, that a lower sentence range should apply because interfering with the certification of the Electoral College vote did not qualify as interfering with the “administration of justice.”
in a government sentencing memorandumFederal prosecutors referred to Hale-Cusanelli’s “civil war enthusiasm and well-documented history of violent rhetoric” and argued that significant prison time is warranted because of his record 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 proved at trial that he did not know that: (a) ‘Congress’ sat in the Capitol building; (b) the Electoral College Certification Process was taking place in the building, and (c) when it entered the Capitol, members of Congress were still there, having fled and hidden from the mob,” they wrote. Hale Cusanelli on the stand.”
Prosecutors also said Hale-Cusanelli “subscribes to the Nazi-sympathist and white supremacist ideologies that drive her enthusiasm for another civil war.” The jury saw only a fraction of the government’s evidence of the extremist views of Hale-Cusanelli, a former security contractor who previously held 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 attorney said in a defense sentencing memorandum that the court will hear from Hale-Cusanelli “who regrets his actions, deplores the violence and destruction of property on Capitol Hill, and apologizes to members of Congress, congressional staff, and law enforcement for their role in the events”.
The government sentencing memorandum refers to Hale-Cusanelli’s adoptive aunt, Cynthia Hughes, who spoke at a Trump rally in Pennsylvania this month. The memorandum mentions her role with the Patriot Freedom Project, a group that supported the Jan. 6 defendants, and points to public information that prosecutors say “fairly supports the inference that Hale-Cusanelli and Hughes have used the Jan. 6 attack on Capitol Hill and notoriety of the Hale-Cusanelli case, which Hughes herself has exacerbated through her public appearances and in the media, to enrich herself.” A footnote in the government memo mentions former President Donald Trump rally on september 3.
Hughes wrote a letter in support of Hale-Cusanelli, saying that “he is not a violent person; he doesn’t walk the streets of New Jersey looking like Hitler.”
Although government court documents noted that 34 of Hale-Cusanelli’s co-workers told investigators that he held “extremist or radical views related to the Jewish people, minorities, and women”; that he attended a Black Lives Matter protest with a “clipboard full of statistics” in the hope that someone would “debate with him” about differences between races; and who was arrested with two others 12 years ago and accused of using a “potato gun” with the words “THE WHITE HAS THE RIGHT”, his aunt said in a letter to the court that “there is not a racist bone in his body. ”
Prosecutors said it was clear Hale-Cusanelli does not regret her actions on Jan. 6.
“Hale-Cusanelli’s self-serving statements at trial that she was wrong to enter the Capitol and that she was sorry she did should carry the same weight as her self-serving assertions that she did not know Congress was in the Capitol building: that is, none,” they wrote.