A former New York fashion student accused of participating in the Jan. 6 breach of the U.S. Capitol and posting on social media about “storming” the building appeared in court Tuesday as the tally of criminal cases kept growing.
Meanwhile, a retired FDNY firefighter who was also charged over the weekend for his alleged involvement in the violent siege has surrendered to authorities. That retired firefighter, Thomas Fee, of Freeport, appeared in Brooklyn Federal Court Tuesday, along with a New York court employee who was arrested earlier in the day for allegedly threatening elected officials online.
Fee and the ex-fashion student, Nicolas Moncada of Staten Island, will ultimately be prosecuted by the U.S. attorney's office in Washington, D.C. Officials confirmed charges were brought against them after obtaining photo evidence of their alleged participation in the riot earlier this month.
In a statement ahead of Fee's court appearance Tuesday, FBI Assistant Director in Charge William Sweeney said, "Thomas Fee is alleged to have illegally made his way into our nation's house. Today, we invited him into ours."
Moncada, 20, appeared via teleconference Tuesday afternoon in federal court in Brooklyn. He was released on a $250,000 bond and ordered to restrict his travel to New York City and Washington, D.C. Moncada was ordered not to engage in any political activity or post anything on social media as he awaits his next appearance. He also was told not to enter the U.S. Capitol or any state Capitol building and surrender his passport.
FBI officials picked Moncada up Monday morning in Washington, D.C. after the bureau linked the Staten Island man to the events at the Capitol. On an Instagram account officials linked to Moncada, the former Fashion Institute of Technology student documented his trespassing of the building.
Two days after the riot, Moncada's school, which he has not been enrolled in since May 2020, shared information with FBI New York of the Staten Island man's post to social media and alleged involvement. Several videos appear to document Moncada participation, including a photo with captioned "Outside Pelosi's office."
"Mr. Moncada denies any participation in the effort to overthrow the Government, and he looks forward to defending his good name," his lawyer, Mario Gallucci, said, describing him as a “spectator” to the events.
Federal investigators showed up to a Staten Island residence believed to be the home of Moncada around 5 a.m. Monday, neighbors told NBC New York.
"Nicolas Moncada is now in custody for his role in assaulting the U.S. Capitol while our representatives were inside performing their constitutional duties," William Sweeney Jr., assistant director in charge of the FBI's New York field office, said.
Federal authorities also charged Fee, an active Freeport Fire Department volunteer firefighter, on Monday. He surrendered to police on Tuesday.
The FDNY confirms the Long Island man is a 22-year veteran of the department who retired in October 2020. A spokesperson previously told NBC New York that the FDNY had received allegations of active and retired members who were at the Capitol on Jan. 6 and provided that intel to the FBI.
Court documents claim Fee sent photo evidence of himself inside the Capitol to a close contact who works within a branch of the State Department. Officials allege Fee drove down to Washington, D.C. on Jan. 5 and return the day after the riot, on Jan. 7. The vehicle registered to the Long Island man was observed crossing the Verrazano Bridge on each of those days, the docs say.
Fee's girlfriend allegedly posted about his involvement in the riot on Facebook. The post was observed by a special agent with the U.S. Diplomatic Security Service who contacted Fee directly over text.
According to court docs, Fee not only admitted via text message his participation on Jan. 6, he sent the agent a selfie allegedly taken inside the U.S. Capitol Rotunda. The special agent took the photo and shared it with the Joint Terrorism Task Force. The selfie was cross-checked with Fee driver's license photo in state DMV records to further prove his participation.
Fee described himself in the communications as part of the “tip of the spear,” prosecutors added. He was released on $100,000 bond and ordered to avoid political gatherings, stay away from the U.S Capitol and state capitols, not make contact with any co-conspirators and surrender his firearms (he owns a shotgun and a rifle).
Fee's attorney, Dennis Ring, said in a statement that his client "did not riot in the US Capital (sic). The allegation here is that he walked through an open door into the Capital — nothing more. He was not involved in any physical altercations or damaging property." Ring's statement went on to say that Fee served in the FDNY for more than 20 years, responding to Ground Zero on 9/11 and working at the scene for months afterward.
As Fee left court Tuesday evening, he offered no comment.
Timothy Louis Hale-Cusanelli, who works as a contractor with "secret" security clearance and access to "a variety of munitions" at the Naval base in Colts Neck, was described by an informant in his criminal complaint as an "avowed white supremacist and Nazi sympathizer who posts video opinion statements on YouTube proffering extreme political opinions and viewpoints."
So far, the FBI has arrested at least 82 people from across the country who allegedly participated in the riot. Local law enforcement agencies have arrested at least 42 people, bringing the arrest totals to 124.