Feds say Monmouth cop took ‘holiday’ to go to Capitol riot
A Monmouth County correctional police officer took an "emergency holiday" from work to travel with a friend to Washington, D.C., on Jan. 6 where they both joined the insurrection at the Capitol, according to a federal criminal complaint filed against both women.
Marissa Suarez and Patricia Todisco are among nearly a dozen New Jersey residents facing federal charges in connection to the attack.
Both women are accused of violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds and knowingly entering or remaining in any restricted building or grounds without lawful authority.
Federal investigators were able to track the driving route of Suarez's Jeep Wrangler early in the morning on Jan. 6, among evidence gathered as to Suarez and Todisco's involvement, according to the complaint.
Suarez, who worked as a probations officer at the Monmouth County Correctional Institution for the past year, submitted her resignation on Friday, according to Monmouth County Sheriff Shaun Golden, who also is head of the Monmouth County Republican Committee.
Hazelton has been involved with protests against Gov. Phil Murphy's executive orders during the continued COVID-19 pandemic.
A witness tipped off Union Beach police and shared multiple text messages and cell phone videos Suarez said she took, during moments before and during the deadly riot, according to the complaint.
The federal complaint says Suarez sent a number of text messages during the insurrection, including the following:
- "Sooo, we've stormed Capitol Hill lol," texted at 3:20 p.m.
- "We're inside hahaha," texted at 3:30 p.m.
- "This is insane," texted at 5:40 p.m.
- "On our way back.. [s**t] got violent so we left," texted just before 7 p.m.
Also according to the complaint, Suarez sent more texts the next morning and attached video clips as she described the moments leading up to and including the riot:
- "When we found out pence [f***ed] us, we all stormed the Capitol building and everyone forced entry and started breaking [s**t].. it was a like a scene out of a movie"
- "After I took this video, trish and I went all the way up. We said [f**k] it and went to the front door"
The witness and a lieutenant from the Monmouth County Sheriff's Office, who trained Suarez for her position with the county jail, both identified her voice in the video, according to the complaint, which also said Suarez called out to Todisco by name in the videos.
Security footage captured the pair together inside the Capitol at the Senate Wing entrance, according to multiple still images included in the complaint.
In one video taken outside the Capitol, the woman identified as Suarez is heard shouting "Oh Trish, oh s**t, oh s**t, yo, this is what they f***ing wanted, this is what they f***ing wanted, this is what they get" as the crowd pushed into the Capitol, according to the complaint. In another video Suarez is heard shouting "stop the steal!"
Suarez and Todisco eventually made their way inside the federal building, where Suarez yelled "our house" as she coughed from tear gas being deployed, according to the complaint.
Todisco was among rioters who went into the private office of a democratic U.S. senator from Oregon, according to the complaint released by the FBI on Saturday. U.S. Sen. Jeffrey Merkley reported his office destroyed and items stolen or damaged after the riot.
U.S. Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick, a native of South River, died of injuries suffered in the riot. Sicknick was hit in the head with a fire extinguisher during the violent chaos, law enforcement officials have said. As of Sunday, no one has faced direct charges for Sicknick's death.
Other New Jersey residents previously charged in connection with the deadly Capitol riot include:
Rasha Abual-Ragheb, a Fairfield resident who also goes by "Rasha Abu," was arrested on Jan. 19 after someone who saw a picture of her inside the Capitol tipped off the FBI, officials said.
Patrick Stedman, a self-described dating and relationship strategist from Haddonfield, was charged on Thursday in connection with taking part in the riot. According to the affidavit, Stedman, 32, posted a Twitter video during the attack, saying he had made it into the Senate chamber.
Leonard Guthrie, of Cape May County, was charged with unlawful entry. He has denied entering the Capitol building, even though images on record in federal court documents appear to show Guthrie there.
Thomas Baranyi, of Ewing, was charged with disorderly or disruptive conduct. Branyi had said in a TV interview that he was next to Ashli Babbitt, who was trying to breach a barricaded door inside the Capitol building, when she was fatally shot by a Capitol Police officer.
Army Reservist Timothy Louis Hale-Cusanelli, a Colts Neck resident who also worked at Naval Weapons Station Earle, was arrested after federal investigators said cell phone videos show Hale-Cusanelli "making harassing and derogatory statements toward Capitol Police officers both inside and outside the Capitol building" during the violent riot on Jan. 6.
In a recording made by a confidential informant after the insurrection, Hale-Cusanelli noted that if "they’d had more men they could have taken over the entire building," an affidavit said.
The complaint for Hazelton had not yet been released by the FBI as of Sunday.