October 19, 2021

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New York woman charged with Pelosi laptop theft in U.S. Capitol riot investigation that brought feds to Alaska

SYRACUSE, New York — A Watertown mother and son are charged with helping to steal a laptop from U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office during the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.

Federal agents also seized a sawed-off shotgun during their investigation.

But Rafael Rondon, 23, and Maryann Mooney-Rondon, 55, are already known nationally for a couple of bizarre reasons.

Rafael Rondon was ridiculed by online sleuths after pictures showed him wearing a clear “escape hood,” which he later admitted stealing from inside the Capitol and was found at his residence, federal agents said. And Mooney-Rondon was the actual target of a botched investigation that instead led federal agents to raid the house of a similar-looking woman in Homer, Alaska.

[Tipsters, social media post led FBI to search Homer woman’s home for links to Capitol riot]

They both appeared on a criminal complaint Friday afternoon in Syracuse and were released on pretrial conditions.

Their top charge, obstruction of an official proceeding, carries a possible 20-year prison sentence, according to Assistant U.S. Attorney Richard Southwick.

Both face six other misdemeanors: theft of government property; entering and remaining in a restricted building or grounds; disorderly and disruptive conduct in a restricted building or grounds; entering and remaining in the Gallery of Congress; entering and remaining in certain rooms in the Capitol Building; and disorderly conduct in a Capitol Building.

Rafael Rondon was separately indicted after authorities say they located a sawed-off shotgun at his residence, according to a federal indictment. That carries a possible 10-year prison sentence.

The Iver Johnson’s Arms & Cycle Works 12-gauge shotgun, Champion model, was seized by federal authorities.

The court papers contained several photos of the two inside the Capitol, including one of Mooney-Rondon reaching across Pelosi’s desk. Authorities said in court papers that there are multiple photos and videos of the two inside the building.

The mom and son both admitted to federal agents that they were inside the Capitol and entered Pelosi’s suite during the insurrection, federal agents said in court paperwork.

Mooney-Rondon admitted giving gloves or a scarf to a man who actually stole the laptop. Rondon said he helped the man, too.

“And I was honestly a little bit afraid, because I didn’t know if he had anything on him …” Rondon told authorities, according to the complaint. “So I assisted him a little bit, and that was probably stupid of me.”

Later, security cameras showed both mom and son with the crowd inside the Senate Gallery, according to the criminal complaint.

Rondon admitted stealing an “escape hood” and an accompanying satchel bag from the Capitol, feds said. (Escape hoods are filtering respiratory protective devices maintained in the U.S. Capitol for members of Congress and staff to provide 30 minutes of protection from carbon monoxide, chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear contaminants.)

Two emergency escape hood bags taken from the U.S. Capitol were located in his home, according to federal agents. Security video from earlier in the riot showed Mooney-Rondon with one, as well, feds said. The escape hoods are each valued at $235.18, according to the criminal complaint.

In planning for the day of the riot, Rafael Rondon explained why he and his mother rode the Metro into the District of Columbia instead of driving: “I’m not taking my car into the city which, the Capitol building I’m about to break into,” he said, according to the criminal complaint.

The mother and son are only the latest Central New Yorkers charged in connection with the Jan. 6 riot:

Homer, New York, resident Richard Bryan Watrous, 59, was arrested Wednesday and charged with entering and remaining in a restricted building or grounds, disorderly and disruptive conduct in a restricted building or grounds, disorderly conduct in a capitol building, and parading, demonstrating, or picketing in a capitol building. He is a registered nurse.

New Hartford resident Eric Bochene, 49, was arrested May 13 and charged with two counts of unlawfully entering or remaining in a restricted building or grounds, and two counts of violent entry disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds, according to court papers filed by federal prosecutors.

A Syracuse man was arrested on April 21 after being accused of being one of the first rioters to break through police lines during the storming of the Capitol.

Matthew Greene, of Burns Avenue in Eastwood, was identified as a member of the “Proud Boys,” a nationwide far-right extremist group that was among those accused of leading the assault that turned deadly Jan. 6.

He and two others were indicted on a 10-count indictment. Greene faces four felonies and three misdemeanors.

Another man, Albert Ciarpelli, 65, also was arrested for his role in the riot, including entering the Capitol. He faces two misdemeanors.

Another CNY man faces local DC charges.

William “Billy” Leary, 54, who runs a manufactured home business in Utica, was accused of violating curfew and unlawfully entering public property (the Capitol grounds), a misdemeanor.

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