A widely circulated video shows Aaron Mostofsky, whose father is a county judge in Brooklyn, wearing a police vest and holding a riot shield during last week’s riots at the U.S. Capitol.
BROOKLYN, N.Y. (CN) — After a viral video showed the fur-clad son of a Brooklyn judge participating in the Jan. 6 riots at the U.S. Capitol, Aaron Mostofsky was arrested and charged with four counts including theft of government property and disorderly conduct.
Mostofsky, 34, was released Tuesday on a $100,000 bond secured by a relative of his older brother’s wife. If convicted of the top charge, felony theft of government property, Mostofsky could face up to 10 years in prison.
In a video posted to YouTube, Mostofsky is seen adjusting the fur pelt on his head as he tells the New York Post reporter interviewing him that Democrat-voting states like New York “were stolen” in the 2020 election.
“I don’t think 75 million people voted for Trump — I think it was close to 85 million,” says Mostofsky.
The video also shows Mostofsky wearing a bulletproof vest labeled “POLICE” and holding a U.S. Capitol police riot shield.
According to the federal complaint lodged against him in Washington, that vest cost $1,905 and the shield is valued at more than $250.
Asked by the reporter about the riot shield, Mostofsky claims to have “found it on the floor.”
“The charges are quite grave, and the evidence is quite significant,” U.S. Magistrate Judge Sanket Bulsara said Tuesday at a hearing of New York’s Eastern District this afternoon in which Mostofsky appeared virtually.
The complaint includes excerpts from direct messages Mostofsky exchanged on Instagram, including one that shows a meme of Mostofsky at the Capitol.
“Your [sic] famous,” the message states, to which Mostofsky replied, “IK unfortunately.”
Asked, “why unfortunately,” Mosfofsky added, “Cause now people actually know me.”
But Mostofsky also posted his own videos on Instagram both inside and outside the Capitol, according to the complaint.
Awaiting trial, Mostofsky must remain in New York City unless he gets permission from pre-trial services to travel elsewhere. The conditions also bar him from communicating with any known co-defendants or co-conspirators and from attending any political gatherings or travel to any state capitals.
“The government is deeply troubled by the conduct of the defendant, as charged,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Josh Hafetz said Tuesday. He added that much of the case surrounding Mostofsky was already public, given the video of him with the riot shield and police vest, “neither of which he had any business holding at all.”
“That said,” Hafetz continued, the travel and communication restrictions included in Mostofsky’s release will ensure the public’s safety following last week’s “mob attack and a rampage” in Washington.
Jeffrey T. Schwartz, a lawyer representing Mostofsky, denied that his client was truly part of the riot.
“He was not part of the mob, and he was not rampaging. He got caught up in it,” Schwartz said.
“He understands how the whole thing in Washington got totally out of hand,” and will stay away from the nation’s capital, Schwartz continued. “You will not have to worry about him” causing “any trouble at all.”
Mostofsky’s father is Kings County Supreme Court Judge Shlomo Mostofsky. A spokesperson for the judge told the New York Post Friday that “Justice Mostofsky has no knowledge of these unfortunate events.”
While he awaits trial, Aaron Mostofsky will wear a GPS device and live in Brooklyn with his older brother, Neil, who is serving as his third-party custodian.
Mostofsky is among the dozens arrested following the attack on Congress, which left one police officer and four rioters dead. The FBI said Tuesday that it has opened more than 160 case files related to the riot.
Prominent arrests include that of Richard Barnett, the Arkansas man photographed first with his feet on Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s desk, then later holding an envelope he pinched from her desk. Adam Johnson, the Florida man seen leaving the Capitol holding Pelosi’s lectern, was also arrested. Johnson was released on $25,000 bail, and Barnett is awaiting a bail hearing.
Several people who participated in the riots have also lost their jobs or closed their businesses after images of them storming the Capitol went viral.
For his part, Trump has denied any responsibility. During a trip to the border wall in Alamo, Texas, on Tuesday, Trump told reporters that “people thought what I said was totally appropriate.”
Democrats have prepared to impeach Trump for inciting insurrection, making Trump the only American president to have been impeached twice.
In addition to felony theft of government property, Mostofsky is charged with knowingly entering or remaining in any restricted building or grounds without lawful authority; disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds with intent to impede government business; and unlawful entry and disorderly conduct.
Mostofsky is set to appear in the District of Columbia on Jan. 25. His attorney declined to comment.