After a botched raid in Alaska, FBI agents ended up 4,500 miles away in upstate New York to arrest a mother and son accused of helping steal Nancy Pelosi’s laptop during the US Capitol riot.
Maryann Mooney-Rondon, 55, and her son, Rafael Rondon, 23, have been charged with theft and related offences nearly nine months after the 6 January riot in Washington DC.
The Rondon family is from Waterton, near the US-Canada border between Syracuse and Ottawa. It is close to the extreme opposite end of the country from Homer, Alaska, where the Federal Bureau of Investigations raided the home of Paul and Marilyn Hueper in April.
While Ms Hueper was in Washington DC for the Trump rally on the same day, and wore a similar hairstyle and black coat as the woman photographed at the Capitol, she insisted it was a case of mistaken identity.
A “tip” finally led investigators to the northern New York town of Waterton where Ms Mooney-Rondon and Mr Rondon were arrested on 1 October, according to a statement of facts document obtained by the Associated Press.
Ms Mooney-Rondon allegedly admitted to being in both the Capitol the day of the riots and Pelosi’s conference room, the document says. She allegedly provided gloves or a scarf to a man to steal Pelosi’s laptop without leaving fingerprints.
“He asked, he said, give me – I don’t know if it was gloves or a scarf I was wearing – and like I said he scared me,” the documents quotes her as saying.
There was an ethernet connected to the computer, her son told FBI agents.
“If I recall, the guy was going to yank it out. I’m like, dude, don’t do that, I mean that’s, I mean just the computer, you can’t pull the cables out, it’ll ruin everything,” Ms Mooney-Rondon said, according to the document.
Mooney-Rondon then said she believes she saw the man put the computer in his backpack. Her son told investigators that he thinks he might have pushed the computer ‘in his bag a little bit using a glove’ cause he didn’t want to get his fingerprints on it,” the document says.
“So I assisted him a little bit, and that was probably stupid of me,” he’s quoted in the document as saying.
She and her son then went to the Senate Gallery and then left the building when they saw it was overrun with protesters.
Rafael Rondon told officers that he and his mother took the metro into Washington on 6 January “because I’m not taking my car into the city which, the Capitol building I’m about to break into,” the FBI agent’s statement alleges.
Both mother and son admitted they were the ones depicted in the photos taken at the Capitol during the riots and distributed by the FBI, the document says.
The US Attorney’s Office said in a statement that the pair appeared in Syracuse court on Friday and were released pending further court proceedings.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.