Two members of the far-right Proud Boys group from New York, including a Hudson Valley resident, are the first people involved in the deadly pro-Trump rampage on the United States Capitol to face federal conspiracy charges.
Prosecutors say they worked together to obstruct and interfere with law enforcement officers protecting Congress during the final certification of the 2020 presidential election.
The two are Dutchess County resident Will Pepe, age 31, of Beacon, and Dominic "Spaz" Pezzola, age 53, of Rochester.
Pepe worked as a laborer at Metro-North’s rail yard in Putnam County, in Brewster prior to his arrest.
The two were indicted on Friday, Jan. 29 in federal court in the District of Columbia on the following charges:
- Civil disorder,
- Unlawfully entering restricted buildings or grounds.
- Disorderly and disruptive conduct in restricted buildings or grounds.
Pezzola was also charged with:
- Obstruction of an official proceeding,
- Additional counts of civil disorder,
- Aiding and abetting civil disorder,
- Robbery of personal property of the United States,
- Assaulting, resisting, or impeding certain officers;
- Destruction of government property,,
- Engaging in physical violence in a restricted buildings or grounds.
Pepe and Pezzola were originally charged by criminal complaint and arrested on Tuesday, Jan. 12, and Friday, Jan. 15, respectively.
According to the charging documents by the US Attorney’s Office in the District of Columbia, Pezzola and Pepe are members of the Proud Boys, a group self-described as a “pro-Western fraternal organization for men who refuse to apologize for creating the modern world; aka Western Chauvinists.”
Proud Boys members often wear the colors yellow and black, as well as other apparel adorned with Proud Boys-related logos and emblems. 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.
According to the indictment, Pezzola and Pepe engaged in a conspiracy to obstruct, influence, impede, and interfere with law enforcement officers engaged in their official duties in protecting the Capitol and its grounds on Wednesday, Jan. 6.
It is alleged that Pezzola and Pepe took actions to evade and render ineffective the protective equipment deployed by Capitol Police in active riot control measures, including actions to remove temporary metal barricades erected by the Capitol Police for the purpose of controlling access to the Capitol Grounds, and the stealing and purloining of property belonging to Capitol Police.
It is further alleged that Pezzola confronted a Capitol Police officer attempting to control the crowd and ripped away the officer’s riot shield, while the officer was physically engaging with individuals who had gathered unlawfully in the west plaza of the Capitol. Pezzola can be seen on video that has been widely distributed, using that riot shield to smash a window at the Capitol.
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) and FBI continue to urge the public to report suspected use of explosive devices, or violent, destructive acts associated with the recent unrest.
Anyone with information can call 1-888-ATF-TIPS (1-888-283-8477), email ATFTips@atf.gov or submit information anonymously via ReportIt.com.
The FBI is looking for individuals who may have incited or promoted violence of any kind. Anyone with digital material or tips can call 1-800-CALL-FBI (800-225-5324) or submit images or videos at fbi.gov/USCapitol.
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