What to Know
- A man with ties to Roger Stone and links to the far-right militia the Oath Keepers has been arrested in New York by federal agents on charges tied to the Capitol riots in January
- Roberto Minuta, who reportedly provided security to Stone in Washington in the hours before the pro-Trump invasion of the Capitol, was arrested Saturday
- Feds also picked up 32-year-old Isaac Sturgeon from JFK Airport, who's accused of shoving barricades at police on the day of the riot and faces multiple related counts
A man with ties to Roger Stone and links to the far-right militia the Oath Keepers has been arrested in New York by federal agents on charges tied to the Capitol riots in January, law enforcement officials with knowledge of the case told News 4 Monday.
Roberto Minuta, 36, appeared via teleconference in federal court in White Plains Monday afternoon for charges of obstructing an official proceeding, entering a restricted building and tampering with documents and proceedings.
Minuta, a tattoo artist who lives in Hackettstown, New Jersey, and works in New York, was previously identified by CNN and others as having provided security for Stone the morning of Jan. 6, prior to the riots. He was arrested at his tattoo shop in the Newburgh area Saturday.
In seeking Minuta's detention, federal prosecutor described Minuta as a lifetime member of Oath Keepers, was armed, wore tactical gear and possessed either pepper spray or bear spray at the riot. In an affidavit supporting his criminal complaint, federal officials identified Minuta is several videos taken the day of the riot that appear to show the man in that tactical gear "aggressively" berating and taunting officers.
Further in the affidavit, officials use a New York Times article ("First They Guared Roger Stone. Then They Joined the Capitol Attack") linking Minuta and Stone as evidence of Minuta's trespassing of the U.S. Capitol.
“One image published by the New York Times appears to depict Minuta inside the Capitol building, wearing the same black baseball hat with yellow letters, ballistic goggles, light-colored hooded sweatshirt, and tactical vest and Oath Keepers patch,” the affidavit highlights.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Benjamin Gianforti told a magistrate judge in White Plains federal court that Minuta was among Oath Keepers who illegally provided freelance security in Washington for “various high-profile individuals who I won’t name.” At the time of his arrest, Minuta told federal agents “something to the effect of: ‘Why am I being targeted here? Why aren’t you going after Antifa and Black Lives Matter members?’” Gianforti said.
The prosecutor said the statements suggest “a lack of remorse for his actions and an ongoing allegiance to the ideology that led him to break the law.” He accused Minuta of “screaming at Capitol Police officers on Jan. 6 and indeed spitting at their feet, which is one of the most disrespectful gestures that one can do.”
Gianforti said Minuta had cancelled his phone account on March 1 and gotten rid of his iPhone while moving between a Texas dwelling and his New York business.
Minuta's federal public defender Ben Gold said he is not charged with engaging in violence at the U.S. Capitol, is not a flight risk, and has led a law abiding life. The lawyer said a criminal complaint describing the charges say Minuta entered the Capitol forcefully, but yet the description afterward “doesn’t say he used an ounce of force.”
The judge ordered Minuta released on a $150,000 bond with travel restrictions and ordered him to surrender weapons he owns.
Law enforcement officials also identified another man Monday who is now facing charges in the Capitol riot case: 32-year-old Isaac Sturgeon of Dillon, Montana. Sturgeon was arrested at JFK Airport on Saturday, returning from Kenya, the officials said.
He allegedly is seen on bodycam footage shoving barricades at police on the day of the riot and faces multiple related counts, including physical violence and obstruction, as well as civil disorder.
Sturgeon appeared via teleconference in Brooklyn federal court Monday afternoon and was ordered released on a $250,000 bond. He's being represented by federal public defender Ashley Burrell who, when contacted by News 4 New York, had no comment.
The lawn-care business owner from Montana allegedly flew to Kenya on Jan. 24, eight days after his photo was added to the FBI's webpage of wanted suspects linked to the riot. Court documents say he was meant to return to the U.S. in April but was ordered deported by Kenyan officials. That's when he flew into New York on Saturday and was picked up by federal officers.
Sturgeon faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted.
More than 300 people, including members of extremist groups Proud Boys and Oath Keepers, have been charged with federal crimes in connection to the Capitol riot. Federal agents are still investigating and hundreds more suspects are at large. Justice Department officials have said they may charge some with sedition.
Five people died, including a Capitol Police officer and a woman who was shot by police.