DC court takes control of Scavo Capitol riot case

Borys Krawczeniuk, The Citizens' Voice, Wilkes-Barre, Pa.
·2 min read

Mar. 31—Charged with illegally entering the Capitol during the Jan. 6 riot there, former Old Forge School Director Frank Scavo's day in court will happen in the nation's capital instead of here.

The U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia formally assumed control of Scavo's case Wednesday. During a detention hearing, U.S. Magistrate Judge Zia M. Faruqui established conditions allowing Scavo to remain free that are virtually identical to conditions that Middle District of Pennsylvania Chief Magistrate Judge Karoline Mehalchick set during a March 25 detention hearing in Scranton, the day he surrendered to the FBI.

The conditions require Scavo to check in weekly with a federal pretrial services officer and forbid him from traveling to Washington, D.C., or outside his home federal court district.

Scavo, 58, and his lawyer, Scranton attorney Ernie Preate Jr., appeared before Faruqui via Zoom with Scavo again acknowledging he understands the conditions.

Preate said he doesn't know why his client faced two detention hearings.

On Monday, Mehalchick canceled a preliminary hearing on the charges scheduled for Thursday, after District of Columbia federal prosecutors filed a criminal information listing the charges against Scavo.

Faruqui set April 21 for a case status hearing.

During the hearing, Preate said he hopes to move the case "expeditiously forward to a resolution."

Afterward, Preate said that does not mean Scavo plans to plead guilty.

Rather, he wants prosecutors to understand he doesn't want his client facing charges for years, just because they're overwhelmed with cases coming from the Capitol riot.

Last week, an FBI agent in Washington, D.C., filed a criminal complaint against Scavo, charging him with four misdemeanors: knowingly entering or remaining in the Capitol without lawful authority, violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds, disorderly and disruptive conduct on Capitol grounds and parading, demonstrating or picketing in the Capitol. Scavo faces up to three years in prison, fines of up to $210,000 and special assessments of up to $70, but sentencing guidelines would likely reduce the penalty.

Preate said last week the Capitol mob pushed Scavo into the building. The criminal complaint, using videos from Scavo's cellphone, accuses him of chanting with rioters inside, posing for a picture near a painting and climbing a staircase while recording cellphone video.

"Your own personal tour of the freaking Capitol," Scavo can be heard saying, according to the complaint. "We ... took it back. Took it back."

Scavo organized a five-bus caravan of about 200 supporters of President Donald Trump to a Washington rally. They protested the November election was stolen Trump — a false claim — just hours before Congress planned to meet to ratify the election of Biden, a Scranton native, to the presidency.

Hundreds later stormed the Capitol, but police eventually cleared the building and Congress ratified Biden's election.

Contact the writer: bkrawczeniuk@timesshamrock.com; 570-348-9147; @BorysBlogTT on Twitter.