By Timothy BellaFeb. 25, 2021 at 3:28 a.m. EST
Standing on the Capitol steps on Jan. 6, Richard Michetti allegedly took a break from the rioting to argue with his ex-girlfriend over text message. After sending photos and videos of the mob and boasting how he had avoided tear gas, Michetti parroted Donald Trump’s false claims of election fraud.
“If you can’t see the election was stolen you’re a moron,” Michetti wrote in a text to the woman, according to court documents.
The next day, the woman he had insulted promptlytold the FBI that her ex was at the Capitol, handing over to law enforcement the string of texts, photos and videos he had sent to her.
Michetti, who lives in Ridley Park, Pa., has now been charged with knowingly entering a restricted building, violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds, and obstruction of Congress. If convicted, Michetti, who was arraigned Tuesday in federal court in Philadelphia, faces up to 20 years in prison, reported the Philadelphia Inquirer.
Neither Michetti nor his attorney, federal public defender Kathleen Gaughan, immediately responded to a request for comment late Wednesday.
Michetti joins the growing list of more than 200 people who have been charged in the insurrection. Many of the alleged rioters were identified by law enforcement through text messages sent to family and friends that bragged of their presence in D.C. last month.
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The ex-girlfriend, who is not named in a 10-page statement of facts, told the FBI that Michetti had texted her on Jan. 5 that he was taking a train to Washington from his home in the Philadelphia suburbs. Michetti told her he was going to D.C. because he believed the election had been stolen — a false claim relentlessly echoed by Trump following President Biden’s win.
After Trump urged his supporters in a Jan. 6 speech in front of the White House to march to the Capitol as Congress was certifying the election results, Michetti, wearing a Chicago White Sox hat, dark hoodie and surgical mask, joined the thousands who breached the building minutes later, federal agents said.
“It’s going down here,” he texted his ex at 2:06 p.m., court documents show. “We stormed the building they held us back with spray and teargas and paintballs.”
The Trump supporter told his former partner that while his eyes were burning, he and the thousands there were doing the right thing to “stop the vote it’s fraud this is our country.”
Around 4:30 p.m., after Trump finally called for rioters to “go home” hours into the insurrection, Michetti, who sent the woman two videos from inside the Capitol, called his ex a “moron.”
“This is tyranny,” he texted her later that evening. “They … told us ‘we rigged the election and there’s nuthin you can do about it’ what do you think should be done?”
After reaching out to law enforcement the next day, Michetti’s former partner was interviewed by FBI special agents on Jan. 11 and helped identify her ex in photos and videos sent to authorities by other tipsters. Footage from Capitol security cameras also captured the Delaware County man in various parts of the building, including the Rotunda, federal agents said. The FBI also got a receipt from Michetti’s one-night stay at a hotel one block away from the Capitol that showed he had checked out on the day of the insurrection.
Michetti was released this week on unsecured bail with electronic monitoring, according to the Morning Call. His next court appearance by video is scheduled for Monday in federal court in Washington.