A Brooklyn judge’s son, who was pictured at Wednesday’s attack on the U.S. Capitol wearing fur pelts and carrying police gear, was arrested by the FBI on Tuesday.
Aaron Mostofsky, the 34-year-old son of prominent Orthodox Jewish community figures and Kings County Supreme Court Judge Shlomo Mostofsky, was seen in multiple photos from the violent insurrection wearing the bizarre fur outfit and a bulletproof vest with “POLICE” emblazoned across it. He was carrying a wooden staff and a plastic riot shield with Capitol Police insignia.
Mostofsky has been charged with four offenses including felony theft of government property, knowingly entering or remaining in a restricting building without lawful authority and doing so with intent to impede government business, and disorderly conduct in the Capitol, according to a criminal complaint obtained by The Daily Beast. His defense lawyer, Jeffrey Schwartz, declined to comment.
A source with the knowledge of the case told The Daily Beast that Mostofsky was arrested early Tuesday at his brother’s house in Brooklyn. ABC7, CNN, and NBC first reported the arrest.
During his arraignment Tuesday, U.S. Magistrate Judge Sanket Bulsara ordered Mostofsky held on a $100,000 secured bond after prosecutors described his behavior as “a mob attack and a rampage on the U.S. Capitol.”
“The government is deeply troubled by the conduct of the defendant. Much of this is public,” Bulsara said Tuesday. While Mostofsky’s arraignment was in New York on Tuesday, the 34-year-old will eventually be extradited to Washington D.C.
Schwartz, however, insisted his client “was not part of the mob” and was just “caught up in it.”
“He was not rampaging. He understands how the whole thing in Washington got out of hand,” Schwartz said.
In an interview with the New York Post last week, Mostofsky admitted he’d attended the event to protest a “stolen election.”
“We were cheated. I don’t think 75 million people voted for Trump—I think it was close to 85 million,” he said. “I think certain states that have been red for a long time turned blue and were stolen, like New York.”
His claims of millions of votes being flipped or suppressed has been disproven by dozens of courts and the federal Department of Justice. The last time New York State voted red was 1984.
According to the criminal complaint, investigators were first alerted to Mostofsky’s identity after seeing his Post interview. In a video interview published with the article, taken from inside the Capitol, Mostofsky claimed he found the bulletproof vest and shield on the floor and took them—along with a police hat he later returned to a police officer because “that might be someone’s personal item.”
The complaint says the vest costs around $1,950 and the riot shield costs $256.65. The combined value makes the theft of government property a felony offense.
Prosecutors also reviewed Mostofsky’s social media accounts. He posted videos on Instagram of him inside the Capitol and on a bus with a caption, “DC bound stopthesteal.” He told a friend at the protest to look out for “a guy looking like a caveman” then later added: “Even a caveman knows it was stolen.”
In one conversation on Instagram after the riot, Mostofsky said it was unfortunate that photos of him at the Capitol had gone viral “cause now people actually know me.”
Investigators also found a Nov. 7, 2018 Facebook comment by Mostofsky that read: “Since the republicans lost the house I have the following questions 1 when and where are we protesting/rioting…”
David Greenfield, head of the Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty and a local powerbroker close to Judge Mostofsky, told The Daily Beast he believes “every single person that trespassed that day should be arrested.” He declined to comment specifically on Mostofsky’s arrest.
Mostofsky will appear before a magistrate judge in the Eastern District of New York on Tuesday.
New York authorities have also arrested Will Pepe, the 31-year-old Metro-North worker who called out sick to attend the pro-Trump riot. Pepe, who has worked for the MTA commuter rail for seven years, was identified by colleagues last week after the FBI began circulating photos of those who attended the riot. The New York Post first reported Pepe is set to appear in federal court in White Plains before he’s prosecuted in Washington, D.C.
“Participation in the riot which resulted in deadly violence at the Capitol last week was abhorrent to the values of the MTA and New Yorkers, and those who attacked that symbol of American democracy disqualified themselves from working for the People of New York,” an MTA spokesman told the Post. “Mr. Pepe is entitled to due process and was suspended last week as part of that process.”
Authorities have detained dozens of people in connection with the insurrection since Wednesday, including Richard Barnett, a self-described white nationalist from Arkansas who posed for gleeful photos in House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office; Adam Johnson, a Florida stay-at-home dad who is caught in a photo smiling while absconding with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s lectern; and Jake Angeli, the shirt-less, horn-wearing Arizona resident known as the “QAnon Shaman.”
Michael Sherwin, acting U.S. attorney for D.C., said at a press conference on Tuesday that charges have been filed in 70 cases related to the riots, but investigators have opened up more than 170 subject files.
“Everyone’s familiar with the zip tie guys, and those who rifled through Pelosi’s office. What the public isn’t aware of is the FBI is looking at significant felony cases, including sedition and conspiracy,” Sherwin said.
He added that at the end of the investigation, he expects to file charges in hundreds of criminal cases.
“The scope and scale of this investigation are really unprecedented,” he said.
The Department of Justice on Monday released more information about Eric Munchel, a 30-year-old Tennessee man who was one of two “zip-tie guys” photographed inside the Senate chamber with zip-ties and tactical gear.
Texas resident Larry Brock was also pictured with zip-ties, which officials believe the rioters could have been planning to use to detain politicians. Both face charges of unlawful entry on the restricted property, and violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds.
The affidavit for Munchel reveals that the 30-year-old stormed the Capitol building with his mom after stopping for coffee. Later that day, he encountered a law enforcement officer at his hotel in D.C. and provided his name.
“At the time, Munchel was wearing camouflage pants [and] wearing a black holster that appeared to be a handgun,” the affidavit states. “Law enforcement interviewed Munchel and identified that he was carrying a black and yellow ‘taser pulse’ taser that emits an electrical shock. Munchel stated he possessed the taser for self-protection as he had participated at the pro-Trump rally.”
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