The FBI arrested a 54-year-old Queens man early Wednesday on charges related to the U.S. Capitol riot, including for allegedly pushing a uniformed police officer over a ledge, according to a criminal complaint.
Ralph Joseph Celentano III is accused of assaulting an officer during the insurrection on Jan. 6, 2021. He also faces charges of civil disorder, disorderly and disruptive conduct in a restricted building and offenses related to acts of physical violence, according to the criminal complaint.
Court documents allege security and other video sources captured multiple shots of Celentano participating in the riot that day. He stood out because of his long hair, two-toned jacket, flag and folding chair affixed to his backpack, they say.
The FBI matched the images to a photo publicly posted on an Instagram account of Celentano out with about 20 other people at a social function in New York. Witnesses confirmed the man was the same, court documents say.
One video from the day of the riot allegedly shows Celentano on the west terrace of the U.S. Capitol approaching a uniformed police officer from behind. He made physical contact, causing the officer to fall over a ledge, court papers say.
The officer recalled being "blind-sided" from behind in a "football-type tackle" without warning, causing him to fall over the ledge to the terrace below, the criminal complaint says. He was frightened he would be "stomped on" by the crowd.
The officer said he probably was hurt in the fall but he had so much adrenaline at the time he couldn't be sure. He did find bumps and bruises afterward but didn't seek medical attention. The Iraq veteran recalled thinking, "I didn't survive a war to go out like this," according to the criminal complaint against Celentano.
The complaint says bodycam footage shows Celentano engaged in other physical altercations with law enforcement personnel on Capitol grounds.
Celentano's home in Broad Channel was being searched Wednesday in connection with the investigation. A heavy federal response was visible at the scene.
Attorney information for Celentano wasn't immediately available. Bond for Celentano was set at $50,000. He is next scheduled to appear before a judge on March 15.
The arrest comes a day after a Texas man was convicted of storming the U.S. Capitol with a holstered handgun, a milestone victory for federal prosecutors in the first trial among hundreds of cases arising from last year’s riot.