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August 18, 2022 9:37 pm

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Dominic Pezzola, Capitol riot defendant, was ‘misled’ and ‘duped’ by Donald Trump: Lawyer

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Dominic Pezzola, a former Marine facing charges for storming the U.S. Capitol, was “duped” by former President Trump into believing it was his duty to act, his lawyer told a federal court Wednesday.

Mr. Pezzola, of Rochester, New York, “acted out of the delusional belief that he was a ‘patriot’ protecting his country,” attorney Jonathan Zucker wrote in a motion seeking his release from custody.

“Defendant is former military who is sworn to protect his country. He was responding to the entreaties of the then commander in chief, President Trump. The President maintained that the election had been stolen and it was the duty of loyal citizens to ‘stop the steal’,” Mr. Zucker argued on behalf of Mr. Pezzola

“Admittedly there was no rational basis for the claim, but it is apparent defendant was one of millions of Americans who were misled by the President’s deception,” Mr. Pezzola‘s lawyer added.

Mr. Pezzola, 43, also known as “Spaz,” is among roughly 200 people facing charges so far in connection with storming the Capitol as Congress met to count electoral votes on the afternoon of Jan. 6.

In charging documents, federal prosecutors included photographs the government alleges to show Mr. Pezzola using a plastic riot shield to break a window on the Capitol Building prior to entering it.

“The only act that seems to distinguish defendant from thousands of other participants is that he used a shield to break a window and he, along with hundreds if not thousands, actually entered the capital,” his lawyer argued in the court filing.

That footage was played during Wednesday’s impeachment trial of Mr. Trump in the Senate. Mr. Pezzola was mentioned by name as well.

Mr. Pezzola described himself on social media as a member of the Proud Boys, the just-for-men group whose members were among the mobs who violently stormed the building, prosecutors said previously.

In a 15-page motion seeking pretrial detention for Mr. Pezzola, Mr. Zucker does not deny his client has connections to the Proud Boys but claims they are “relatively short lived and minimal.”

Mr. Pezzola has been jailed since mid-January. He has since been charged in an 11-count indictment, including with charges he allegedly conspired with another Proud Boys member from New York.

“The object of the conspiracy was to obstruct, influence, impede and interfere with law enforcement officers engaged in their official duties in protecting the U.S. Capitol and its grounds,” the indictment alleges.

Mr. Pezzola pleaded not guilty to all counts Tuesday. A detention hearing was scheduled for later Wednesday afternoon to determine if he should be released pending the outcome of his trial.

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