BY: OLIVIA RUBIN, AARON KATERSKY, AND ALEXANDER MALLIN, ABC NEWS
(NEW YORK) — A New York man with ties to the Oath Keepers militia group and former President Donald Trump’s longtime adviser Roger Stone has been arrested and charged in connection with the Jan. 6 Capitol riot.
Roberto Minuta, of Newburgh, New York, was seen in a video first unearthed by ABC News flanking Roger Stone on the morning of Jan. 6 outside a Washington, D.C., hotel.
In the video, Minuta can be seen standing with Stone wearing a baseball hat and military-style vest branded with the Oath Keeper logo.
Minuta, who was spotted on video later that day in the gathering crowd approaching the Capitol, has been charged with obstruction of Congress and unlawful entry.
“Minuta and others affiliated with the Oath Keepers breached the U.S. Capitol grounds, where Minuta aggressively berated and taunted U.S. Capitol police officers responsible for protecting the Capitol and the representatives inside of the Capitol,” according to charging documents.
The FBI arrested Minuta in Newburgh on Saturday, the official told ABC News.
In February, Minuta’s wife confirmed to ABC News that her husband had gone to the Capitol on the day of the insurrection, but said that he never went inside the Capitol building.
He was “another patriot outside the Capitol Building … standing up for freedom,” she said.
Attempts to reach her Monday were unsuccessful.
Federal prosecutors characterized Minuta as a dangerous flight risk and requested that he be held until trial. They also referenced a May episode in which Minuta opened his tattoo parlor in Newburgh in defiance of state coronavirus restrictions.
“There’s evidence this man does not respect the law,” said assistant U.S. Attorney Ben Gianforti.
But defense attorney Sam Gold said Minuta has strong ties to the community and that “this is not someone who is going to leave his family, leave his children, to evade these charges.”
Magistrate Judge Andrew Krause ultimately ordered Minuta released on bail, saying, “Mr. Minuta was not engaged in any acts of violence on Jan. 6. I think it is an overstatement of the situation to say that because Mr. Minuta was wearing particular gear he is predisposed to particular acts of violence.”
Gianforti also said Minuta had provided “freelance security for various high profile individuals” on the morning of the insurrection.
Stone, in a statement to ABC News, said that he does not know Minuta, nor was he “familiar with his name prior to his being identified in earlier media stories where it was alleged that he was involved in illegal events up at the Capitol.”
“If he was indeed among those who volunteered to provide security while I visited Washington DC I was unaware of it,” Stone said.
The longtime GOP operative has maintained that he played “no role whatsoever in the Jan. 6 events” and has repeatedly said that he “never left the site of my hotel until leaving for Dulles Airport” that afternoon. He has also decried attempts to ascribe to him the motives of the people around him.
Stone also said that while he has acknowledged that the Oath Keepers provided security for him on Jan. 5, they did so for a number of speakers that day, and “that does not in any way provide proof or evidence” that he was involved in or had advance knowledge “of the illegal acts at the Capitol on January 6.”
“I could not even tell you the names of those who volunteered to provide security for me, required because of the many threats against me and my family,” Stone previously told ABC News.
Oath Keepers were known to be providing security for Stone during his D.C. visit. Reports surfaced in January that militia members were traveling with Stone on the day before the Capitol assault as the Trump loyalist helped set the stage for the “Stop the Steal” events that were intended to give a forum to the president’s false claims that the 2020 election had been rigged.
Minuta’s arrest comes as the Department of Justice continues to pursue individuals who participated in the Jan. 6 Capitol attack. Dozens of individuals with ties to extremist groups have been arrested for their role, including at least five people associated with the Oath Keepers — three of whom have been charged with conspiracy.
The FBI said in one court filing that some members of the Oath Keepers “took steps to plan an operation to stop, delay, and hinder Congress’ certification of the Electoral College vote.”
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