New York man charged in Capitol riot bails out as attorney says he was 'not part of the mob'
Posted January 12, 2021 11:19 p.m. EST
CNN — A New York man who allegedly gave a video interview while in the US Capitol was released on bond after being charged with crimes related to Wednesday's riot.
Aaron Mostofsky, the 34-year-old son of a state Supreme Court judge, appeared remotely for the Brooklyn federal court proceeding. US prosecutors in Washington, DC, have charged him with felony theft of government property.
He also faces charges of knowingly entering or remaining in any restricted building or grounds without lawful authority, knowingly -- with intent to impede government business or official functions -- engaging in disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds, and unlawful entry and disorderly conduct.
He was not asked to enter a plea at his initial court appearance and was granted $100,000 bail by US Magistrate Judge Sanket Bulsara.
Mostofsky's father is Kings County Supreme Court Judge Steven "Shlomo" Mostofsky. A representative for the judge declined to comment on the charges.
Defense attorney Jeffrey Schwartz said Mostofsky was not a rioter.
"I believe the evidence will show that he was not part of the mob, that he was not rampaging," Schwartz said at the hearing.
The judge approved a joint package that allows for Mostofsky's release and limits his travel to New York City, prohibits him from communicating with co-defendants or co-conspirators in the case, and prohibits him from attending political rallies or entering state capitols.
"These are of particular importance given what is already widely reported, as expected potential for social gatherings and violence and threats associated with those," Assistant US Attorney Josh Hafetz said at the hearing. "It's important Mr. Mostofsky not engage in the behavior he engaged in last week."
Schwartz said his client will have nothing to do with protest events.
"He understands how the whole thing in Washington got totally out of hand," Schwartz said. He will stay far away from Washington, any political rallies."
Schwartz said Mostofsky's only interest now is to address these charges and to get a resolution that is "just."
The FBI New York tweeted out a warning Tuesday to people considering violating federal law.
"For those in this area considering participating in future activity similar to Mr. Mostofsky's alleged behavior, let me be clear: The FBI will find you, arrest you, and do our part to ensure you face the full force of the federal criminal justice system," Assistant Director in Charge William F. Sweeney Jr. said in a statement.
Sweeney also thanked members of the community who provided information and tips related to the Capitol attack, adding, "We are stronger when we are united."
The FBI has opened more than 160 case files in the six days since pro-Donald Trump rioters breached the US Capitol building. Prosecutors have already charged more than 70 cases.
Complaint cites video interview from Capitol
The criminal complaint cites a video interview Mostofsky gave to the New York Post while inside the Capitol building six days ago, where he says he believed "the election was stolen" and that he traveled from his home in Brooklyn to Washington, DC.
The complaint shared an image from the interview, allegedly showing Mostofsky wearing a Capitol Police vest and carrying a US Capitol Police riot shield, which, according to the complaint, he told the interviewer he found on the floor.
The complaint states that authorities issued a search warrant to access Mostofsky's now-unavailable Instagram account four days ago, where investigators found additional posts regarding Mostofsky's presence in the Capitol during the riot.
According to the complaint, an Instagram message sent to Mostofsky said, "Your (sic) famous," to which he allegedly replied. "IK (I know) unfortunately."
"But it was like I'm here now how did I get there," Mostofsky allegedly says in a reply to the unidentified person.
Another post uncovered by investigators allegedly from Mostofsky indicated he was on a bus just after 6 a.m. last Wednesday headed to the Washington, DC, and that he tried to coordinate meeting up with a friend, instructing the friend to "look for a guy looking like a cave man," according to the complaint.
Brother agrees to look after him
Mostofsky's older brother, Neil Mostofsky, agreed to be a third-party custodian to ensure his brother attends court hearings and abides by terms of his release during the hearing. The elder Mostofsky described himself as part of an organization that "educates members of Congress" but is currently "monetarily defunct" due to the pandemic, and said his family is "extremely close."
Mostofsky could face up to 10 years in prison if convicted of the top charge, according to federal prosecutors.
He is expected to appear on a video hearing in the District of Columbia on January 25.