April 17, 2024

Former Trump Official Convicted of Police Attack in Capitol Riot

WASHINGTON (AP) – A man who worked as a State Department political appointee in former President Donald Trump’s administration was convicted Thursday on charges that he assaulted police officers during the capitol riot there is Jan. 6, 2021.

US District Judge Trevor McFadden heard evidence without a jury before convicting the former officer, Federico Guillermo Kleinand co-defendant, Steven Cappuccio, on charges of assault and other resulting felony offenses riot at the US Capitol by a crowd of Trump supporters.

Klein and Cappuccio were among nine co-defendants charged with crimes related to one of the most violent and pivotal episodes of the January 6 siege: brutal waves of hand-to-hand combat between rioters and police officers in a tunnel leading to the Capitol entrance on the Lower West Side.

Klein and Cappuccio met in the tunnel and struggled with outnumbered police officers for hours to hold back the riotous crowd, prosecutors said in a court filing.

McFadden convicted Klein of 12 counts, including six charges of assaulting, resisting or obstructing police officers. Klein is scheduled to be sentenced on November 3.

Federico Guillermo Klein was facing charges of assault and other felony offenses stemming from the riot at the US Capitol by a crowd of Trump supporters.

The judge is scheduled to sentence Cappuccio on October 19. McFadden convicted him of assault charges but acquitted him of two counts, including a felony charge of obstructing the Jan. 6 session of Congress to certify Biden’s 2020 election victory. But, McFadden convicted Klein of the same obstruction charge.

The judge said there was “appalling violence and hostility” against the police in the tunnel.

“No police officer should have to endure such unprovoked attacks,” McFadden said.

McFadden allowed Klein to remain free under house arrest until he was sentenced but ordered Cappuccio to be jailed immediately after the verdict. Klein shook Cappuccio’s hand in the courtroom before a deputy marshal handcuffed him.

Klein, a US Marine Corps veteran who served in Iraq, had a Top Secret security clearance and had been working since 2017 in the State Department’s Brazilian and Southern Cone Affairs office. He resigned from that position on January 19, 2021, a day before the inauguration of President Joe Biden.

Klein, wearing a red “Make America Great Again” hat, was the first wave of rioters to enter the tunnel, according to prosecutors. They said Klein pushed hard against officers, telling them, “You can’t stop this!” and several times his shoulder drove into an officer who tried to push him back with his stick.

Klein also placed a stolen police riot shield between two doors, preventing officers from closing them, prosecutors said.

“Using the shield as a wedge, Klein and other rioters forced the doors open again and continued their attack on the police in the tunnel, which lasted more than two more hours,” prosecutors wrote.

Video captured Klein encouraging other rioters to attack police, repeatedly shouting, “We need fresh people!”

Cappuccio cried, “Storm the castle, boys!” and chanted, “Fight for Trump!” and “Our house!” as he reached the Lower West Terrace. In the tunnel, he joined another rioter pushing against the police line, prosecutors said.

“All the while, Cappuccio continued to hold his phone in the air, recording the violence between the rioters and the police line,” they wrote.

When another rioter pushed Metropolitan Police Officer Daniel Hodges against the door, Cappuccio ripped a gas mask off the officer’s face and took off his helmet, prosecutors said.

“Cappuccio then took Officer Hodges’ riot baton out of his hands and used the baton to strike Officer Hodges in the face,” they wrote. “During this vicious attack, Officer Hodges screamed and pleaded for help.”

Cappuccio, also a military veteran, drove from Texas to Washington, DC to attend Trump’s “Stop the Steal” rally on Jan. 6. He was arrested at his home in Universal City, Texas, in August 2021.

Klein, a native of the Washington region, also worked for Trump’s 2016 campaign captured in March 2021.

Klein’s lawyer asked for a separate trial, arguing that his co-defendants were accused of “much more threatening and intentional conduct” than Klein.

“Mr. Klein is not alleged to have injured anyone, and the government admits that his ‘assault’ on a law enforcement officer is that he had a riot shield that also came into contact with a law enforcement officer,” defense attorney Stanley Woodward wrote in a March 2022 court filing.

Another co-defendant, Christopher O’Cluanin, to be tried by Klein and Cappuccio. Earlier this month, however, McFadden Quaglin, 37, of North Brunswick, New Jersey, was convicted of 14 riot-related crimes. Quaglin had a “mandatory bench trial,” meaning the judge decided the case without a jury based on facts agreed upon by both sides. McFadden is scheduled to sentence Quaglin on September 26.

More than 100 police officers were injured during the riot. More than 1,000 people have been charged with federal crimes in connection with the January 6 attack.. About 100 of them have been convicted by juries or judges. Only two have been acquitted of all charges after trials. Over 600 others pleaded guilty.

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