Feds creating database to aid in Capitol breach case

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Jul. 29—Federal prosecutors are creating a database to transmit a "massive volume of data" to defendants and lawyers involved in the U.S. Capitol riot case, including three accused Northeast Pennsylvania residents.

The local defendants awaiting prosecutors' evidence are former Old Forge School Director Frank Scavo, 58, volunteer firefighter Michael J. Rusyn, 35, of Olyphant, and Annie Howell, 31, of Swoyersville.

The three, all supporters of former President Donald Trump, have pleaded not guilty and remain free without bail. All three are charged with entering and remaining in a restricted building, the Capitol; disorderly and disruptive conduct in a restricted building, the Capitol; and violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds.

Scavo and Rusyn are charged with parading, demonstrating or picketing in the Capitol. Howell is also charged with obstruction of justice or Congress.

According to a recent filing in Howell's case, similar to filings in Scavo's and Rusyn's cases, federal prosecutors say "substantial discovery" has already been provided in the case, and the federal government has agreed to pay $6.1 million to Deloitte Financial Advisory Services, LLP to create the database.

"The investigation and prosecution of the Capitol breach will be the largest in American history, both in terms of the number of defendants prosecuted and the nature and volume of the evidence," Assistant U.S. Attorney Rachel A. Fletcher wrote in the filing, meant to update the court on the status of discovery. "In the six months since the Capitol was breached, over 500 individuals located throughout the nation have been charged with a multitude of criminal offenses."

The "voluminous materials" involved in the case includes thousands of hours of security camera and body camera footage, radio transmissions, hundreds of thousands of tips, location histories for thousands of devices that were inside the Capitol during the breach, cellphone data and more than 1 million posts and replies from the conservative social media site Parler, according to the filing.

Howell is next due to appear for a video status conference before Senior U.S. District Judge Thomas F. Hogan on Sept. 14. Rusyn has a status conference scheduled today before District Judge Amy Berman Jackson. Scavo has a status conference Aug. 5 before Senior District Judge Royce C. Lamberth.

Prosecutors allege Howell was recorded inside a trashed conference room in the Capitol and could be heard chanting "Whose house? Our House!" and "Fight for Trump!"

Howell used her Facebook account to message and brag about being inside the Capitol, prosecutors allege.

Rusyn, a volunteer firefighter with Liberty Hose Company 6, joined a group of people who tried to enter the U.S. House chamber and called Capitol Police fending them off traitors. They chanted threateningly against House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and "stop the steal," the rallying cry that falsely claims vote fraud cost Trump reelection.

Rusyn held a cellphone and recorded the encounter, according to a criminal complaint.

He and Scavo claim the crowd pushed them into the building. Rusyn told investigators he tried to take broomsticks with hooks and nails and other weapons away from other people.

Scavo denied entering the Capitol to local reporters, but video from his cellphone shows him inside celebrating, chanting with rioters, posing for a picture near a painting and climbing a staircase while recording, a federal criminal complaint charges.

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

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