A Queens man who tackled a police officer and pushed him over a ledge during the riot at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, was sentenced this week to six and a half years in prison, court records show.
The man, Ralph Joseph Celentano III, 56, of Broad Channel, was sentenced on Tuesday, according to court records. A jury convicted him last June on two felony counts — assaulting, resisting or impeding an officer, and interference with officers during a civil disorder — and several misdemeanor counts, court records show.
In sentencing Mr. Celentano, the Justice Department said in a news release, Judge Timothy J. Kelly of Federal District Court in Washington called his actions during the riot “disgraceful” and his assault on the officer “a truly cowardly and despicable thing to do.”
Mr. Celentano is among more than 1,265 people to be charged in connection with the Jan. 6 riot, according to the Justice Department. He and other supporters of former President Donald J. Trump stormed the Capitol in a bid to prevent the certification of Joe Biden as the winner of the 2020 presidential election. A federal investigation into the day’s events is continuing.
Mr. Trump, who is seeking the Republican nomination in this year’s presidential election, faces federal conspiracy and other charges arising from the riot. He has pleaded not guilty.
A federal public defender representing Mr. Celentano did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
In a court filing submitted before the sentencing, Mr. Celentano’s lawyers said he had grown up as a churchgoing boy scout who went on to a 30-year career as a union carpenter. He was forced to stop working because of on-the-job injuries and had spent much of his free time surfing and skateboarding before being charged in the Capitol attack, the lawyers wrote.
Mr. Celentano came to Washington on the day of the riot to attend a rally for Mr. Trump and did not have violence in mind, his lawyers wrote.
“He is a man who deeply believed the election was stolen, who was disaffected by his government and who received his news from sources that fed him misinformation,” the lawyers wrote.
After the rally, according to court filings, Mr. Celentano made his way to a spot near the Capitol, where he was recorded saying, “Someone’s got to do something!”
“What do you think we should do?” someone off-camera asked.
“Occupy the Capitol,” Mr. Celentano replied. “It’s our building.”
He and other rioters linked arms and marched straight at police officers protecting the building, court documents show. Mr. Celentano fought with several officers, chasing down and shoving one of them, according to court filings.
At one point, he tackled a Capitol Police officer from behind, lifted the officer off his feet and flipped him over a five-foot-high ledge, court documents show.
After assaulting the officer and while still on the Capitol grounds, Mr. Celentano filmed a video in which he celebrated the mob’s handiwork, the Justice Department said in its release. In the days that followed, the release said, he wrote in text messages and social media posts that it was a day he would always remember and that he would do it all over again.