A U.S. Army reservist arrested on suspicion of participating in the Jan. 6 Capitol riot was known to most of his co-workers as a white supremacist and Nazi sympathizer and grew a “Hitler mustache” while working as a Navy contractor with security clearance, according to federal prosecutors.
Timothy Hale-Cusanelli, of Colts Neck, N.J., is among a growing number of people connected to the military or police who are charged with participating in the Jan. 6 storming of the U.S. Capitol. The arrests come as law enforcement and military leaders confront the infiltration of their ranks by extremist ideologies. Hale-Cusanelli faces five federal charges, including three counts of crimes on restricted grounds.
Arguing in a Friday filing that Hale-Cusanelli should remain in pretrial detention, the U.S. District Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia released parts of interviews with his co-workers at the Naval Weapons Station Earle. Several of the nearly four dozen Navy service members and contractors told Naval Criminal Investigation Service agents that Hale-Cusanelli was a white supremacist.
One Navy petty officer alleged that Hale-Cusanelli once said, “Hitler should have finished the job,” according to the filing.
A Navy seaman told investigators that he heard Hale-Cusanelli say that “babies born with any deformities or disabilities should be shot in the forehead” and that if he were a Nazi, “he would kill all the Jews and eat them for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and he wouldn’t need to season them because the salt from their tears would make it flavorful enough,” prosecutors disclosed.
Another Navy petty officer said Hale-Cusanelli referred to Black people in profane, dehumanizing terms, according to the document.
Multiple co-workers remembered seeing Hale-Cusanelli’s mustache shaved to look like the short mustache Hitler wore, including a supervisor who admonished him for it. Photos on his phone obtained by federal agents showed his hair cut in a way reminiscent of Hitler’s hairdo, including selfies taken at work. Other images on his phone portrayed Hitler saving White Americans from the Republican and Democratic parties and contained “statistics” to “bolster his assertions that the ‘white race’ was superior,” according to prosecutors.
The interviews, as well as racist and offensive photos and cartoons found on Hale-Cusanelli’s phone, are not legal grounds to halt his release, prosecutors acknowledge. But they said the ideology is a driving force behind his aspiration for a “civil war,” making him a danger to the community. He deleted social media accounts and videos from his YouTube channel before his arrest, leading authorities to believe he could obstruct justice, according to the filing.
Hale-Cusanelli’s attorney, Jonathan Zucker, said in a filing arguing for his release that it was inaccurate to say that his client is an “avowed white supremacist and Nazi sympathizer.” There is no evidence that he is a member of “any white supremacist organizations,” the lawyer wrote, and Hale-Cusanelli denied he was a Nazi in an interview with the FBI. Zucker declined to comment on the case.
In arguing for Hale-Cusanelli’s release, Zucker also cited a letter written by one of his supervisors, Sgt. John Getz, who said Hale-Cusanelli is not prejudiced, blaming the “media” for calling him a white supremacist. However, in Friday’s filing, prosecutors cited comments by Getz that contradicted the letter.
Getz told agents that Hale-Cusanelli would walk up to new people and ask, “You’re not Jewish, are you?” with a demeanor that was “joking but not.” Getz said he knew Hale-Cusanelli was a Nazi sympathizer and Holocaust denier, according to the document. Getz told authorities that he did not mention that in his letter submitted to the court because he was not personally offended by Hale-Cusanelli, prosecutors wrote.
A fellow contractor told Naval Criminal Investigation Service agents that no one wanted to report Hale-Cusanelli for his conduct because he was “crazy” and people were afraid, according to prosecutors.
Hale-Cusanelli was a sergeant in the Army Reserve, serving in the 174th Infantry Brigade out of Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst in New Jersey, according to the Army. Legal filings from prosecutors and his attorney indicate that he was discharged after his arrest and barred from the naval station.
Navy Region Mid-Atlantic and Army Reserve did not immediately respond to questions from The Washington Post about Hale-Cusanelli’s status.
Army Reserve Strategic Communications previously told The Post: “The Army does not tolerate racism, extremism or hatred in our ranks and is committed to working closely with the FBI as they identify people who participated in the violent attack on the Capitol to determine if the individuals have any connection to the Army.”
Hale-Cusanelli came to the FBI’s attention on Jan. 12 when an informant told agents that he had boasted about being at the Capitol on Jan. 6, with videos that showed Hale-Cusanelli verbally harassing police officers, according to charging documents. Hale-Cusanelli told the federal informant that he urged others to charge and stole a flagpole that was used by another rioter to attack a member of the Capitol Police, according to the FBI.
In conversations with the informant shared by prosecutors, Hale-Cusanelli said the mob that stormed the Capitol could have overtaken it had the crowd been larger.