Virginia officers, man believed to have worn pro-Nazi sweatshirt charged in US Capitol siege
WASHINGTON - Federal authorities announced several new charges Wednesday against people allegedly involved in last week's riot at the Capitol, including a man said to have worn a pro-Nazi sweatshirt, a five-time Olympic medalist and two police officers from southwest Virginia.
Many of the those charged in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia on Wednesday face misdemeanors and were released without bond, with prosecutors asking only that they be temporarily barred from Washington.
"Things that are planned to happen in D.C. perhaps this coming week . . . there is obviously a concern there," acting U.S. attorney Daniel Bubar said in court of asking defendants to stay away from the region.
But prosecutors aim to hold a man who is accused of threatening both House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and District Mayor Muriel Bowser, a Democrat.
Among those arrested and released Wednesday were Thomas Robertson, 47, and Jacob Fracker, 29, of Rocky Mount, Va., both officers with the Rocky Mount Police Department. They have been placed on administrative leave.
An arrest affidavit alleges that the FBI had information that Robertson and Fracker were photographed in the Capitol between 2 and 8 p.m. Jan. 6 making an obscene statement. Robertson was allegedly quoted on social media saying: "CNN and the Left are just mad because we actually attacked the government who is the problem and not some random small business . . . The right IN ONE DAY took the . . . U.S. Capitol. Keep poking us."
According to the affidavit by U.S. Capitol Police Special Agent Vincent Veloz, a now-deleted Facebook post by Fracker was captioned: "Lol to anyone who's possibly concerned about the picture of me going around . . . Sorry I hate freedom? . . . Not like I did anything illegal . . . y'all do what you feel you need to."
Robertson told a local news station that they were allowed entry by Capitol Police and did not participate in any violence. Both Robertson and Fracker said in court they were military veterans.
Robert Keith Packer, 56, of Newport News, Va., was identified by an acquaintance and other news outlets; several photographs taken at the Capitol appear to show him wearing a sweatshirt that read "Camp Auschwitz," a reference to the infamous Nazi concentration camp. The sweatshirt included the phrase "Work Brings Freedom," a rough English translation of the German words that hung over one of the gates of the camp, where more than 1.1 million people were killed during the Holocaust.
An arrest warrant charges Packer with unlawful entry and disorderly conduct on restricted Capitol grounds, misdemeanors punishable by as much as a year in prison. He was released on his own recognizance Wednesday afternoon, with orders to stay out of the District and to appear at a virtual hearing next week. He has not yet hired an attorney.
The Washington Post was unable to reach Packer, and a lawyer who recently represented him did not respond to requests for comment.
Klete Keller, a five-time Olympic medalist in swimming, was charged just days after he was spotted on video wearing a Team USA jacket in the Capitol Rotunda. FBI agents used video and other evidence to confirm his presence inside the Capitol, records show.
District police on Wednesday also arrested Nicholas Rodean of Maryland. Rodean, a former employee of Navistar Direct Marketing in Fredrick, was fired after being photographed in the Capitol with his company ID badge around his neck.
Others charged federally were William Pepe, arrested in New York; Andrew Williams, arrested in Florida; Josiah Colt, of Meridian, Idaho, arrested in Idaho; and Kevin Loftus, arrested in Wisconsin, prosecutors said.
Williams is a firefighter in Sanford, Fla.; Pepe works for New York's Metropolitan Transportation Authority. Both were suspended without pay.
WIlliams's attorney Vincent Citro did not immediately respond to a request for comment. However, Citro told reporters after Williams's court appearance Wednesday that "the president and the Capitol Police encouraged despicable behavior. Mr. Williams took part in none of it," Florida media reported.
CBS2 News in Idaho reported that Colt released a statement apologizing after he was photographed hanging from the Senate gallery balcony, saying, "In the moment I thought I was doing the right thing. I realize now that my actions were inappropriate and I beg for forgiveness from America and my home state of Idaho."
Separately, federal prosecutors in Brooklyn filed a weapons charge against a self-described Proud Boys member who apparently did not travel to Washington but allegedly posted threatening statements on the social network Parler on and around Jan. 6 regarding Democratic Sen.-elect Raphael Warnock of Georgia and the Capitol insurrection.