BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — Thursday marks one year since the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol that aimed to overturn the result of the 2020 presidential election and led to President Donald Trump’s second impeachment.
The Department of Justice has made more than 700 arrests in the past year in connection with the riot, including several people from Western New York. “The Department of Justice’s resolve to hold accountable those who committed crimes on Jan. 6, 2021, has not, and will not, wane,” the DOJ writes on its website.
Here’s an update on where cases against Western New Yorkers stand.
Arrested: March 12 in Buffalo
Case Number: 1:21-cr-291
Background and charges: Perhaps the most infamous Capitol rioter from Western New York, Sibick is accused of assaulting Washington D.C. Metropolitan Police officer Michael Fanone, ripping the badge and radio off the officer’s uniform, stealing the badge and later burying it in his backyard. He was indicted on 10 charges in April, including:
- Obstruction of an official proceeding and aiding and abetting
- Civil disorder
- Assaulting, resisting or impeding certain officers
- Entering and remaining in a restricted building or grounds
- Disorderly and disruptive conduct on restricted building or grounds
- Impeding ingress and egress in a restricted building or grounds
- Engaging in physical violence on restricted building or grounds
- Impeding passage through the Capitol grounds or buildings
- Acts of physical violence in the Capitol grounds or buildings
- And robbery
Sibick pleaded not guilty to numerous counts against him and was granted a conditional release in October while he awaits trial.
Conditions of the release include not having access to internet-capable devices, not watching any political news programs and not using any social media. He is also required to obtain mental health treatment, not possess a gun or other weapon, submit to location monitoring technology, surrender his passport and not obtain travel documents.
Arrested: January 13 in Elma
Case number: 1:21-mj-33
Background and charges: Harding, of Cheektowaga, was the first person from Western New York to be arrested for taking part in the Capitol riot after he posted about it on social media. He was charged with knowingly entering or remaining in any restricted building or grounds without lawful authority, and violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds.
The FBI reviewed an hour-long video Harding recorded on Jan. 7, in which he stated he got “it all on video … all of it. Everything.” Later in the video, Harding allegedly said, “We learned how strong we are. We learned how strong our voices are. We learned how strong our numbers are. If we can take the Capitol building, there is nothing we can’t accomplish.” He added later, “We did what we needed to do.”
In an interview with News 4, Harding initially lied and said he did not enter the Capitol. When video showed him inside, he then claimed he never made the statements he made and questioned a reporter on why the events of 1/6 were being described as an attack.
Harding was also seen on video attempting to set fire to a pile of damaged news media equipment that had been destroyed by rioters. He claimed in the interview it was only a symbolic gesture.
News 4 reported at the time of his arrest that Harding had organized numerous rallies and protests in the region, including in front of Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz’s home in Buffalo. He also protested the Covid-19 rules put in effect by former Gov. Andrew Cuomo, including the closing of businesses and requiring people to wear masks. Harding was also present at Athlete’s Unleashed in Orchard Park last November, when county health inspectors and deputies tried to shut the gym down for having too many people inside during the pandemic.
Arrested: May 18 in Alden
Case Number: 21-mj-432
Background and charges: Warmus was arrested in May after the FBI raided his apartment with flash grenades early on a Tuesday morning. He was charged with knowingly entering a restricted building, intent to disrupt official government business, and violent entry.
The FBI acted on a tip after Warmus bragged about his actions while at the dentist’s office. The tipster told them Warmus claimed he smoked marijuana inside the Capitol.
The FBI investigation found Warmus was wearing a Trump 2020 hat and a sweatshirt that read “CNN is fake news” when he entered the Capitol. Warmus was arraigned in July and pleaded not guilty.
William Michael Sywak and William Jason Sywak
Arrested: William Michael: May 19 in Hamburg; William Jason: May 19 in Arcade
Case number: 1:21-cr-494
Background and charges: Both parts of the father and son duo were charged with knowingly entering any restricted building or grounds, disorderly conduct in any restricted building or grounds, disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds and parading on Capitol grounds.
The FBI alleges the men told them they went to Washington D.C. to see the protests but did not go inside the Capitol. However, the FBI believes video evidence shows both men entering the building and locking arms once inside.
The FBI says cell phone records indicate they spent more than 20 minutes in the Capitol building over an hour on restricted grounds.
Both men pleaded not guilty to all counts when arraigned in August.
UPDATE: Both men took plea deals in January 2022, pleading guilty to parading, demonstrating or picketing in a Capitol building, a misdemeanor that carries a maximum prison sentence of six months and a fine up to $5,000. They also agreed to pay $500 in restitution for damages caused at the Capitol, which were estimated to be $1.5 million in total. Other charges against them were dropped as part of the agreement. The will be sentenced on June 6.
Arrested: May 19 in Amherst
Case Number: 21-mj-371
Background, charges and plea: The FBI got an anonymous tip that Sunstrum was seen in a Facebook Live video during the Captiol riot. Phone records indicated she spent about 20 minutes inside the building. She was believed to be observed in numerous photos.
The FBI found a Facebook post from Sunstrum on Jan. 6 in which she claimed she was performing the duties of a citizen journalist while inside the Capitol by taking video of “Trump supporters stopping antifa from breaking stuff.” She added, “If I go to jail, I GO WITH PRIDE.”
Sunstrum was charged with entering and remaining in a restricted building or grounds, disorderly and disruptive conduct in a restricted building or grounds, disorderly conduct in a Capitol building, and parading, demonstrating or picketing in a Capitol building.
In November, Sunstrum entered into a plea deal. She pleaded guilty to parading, demonstrating or picketing in a Capitol building, which carries a maximum prison sentence of six months and a fine up to $5,000. She also agreed to pay $500 in restitution for damages caused at the Capitol, which were estimated to be $1.5 million in total. The other charges were dropped.
Sunstrum’s sentencing is scheduled for Feb. 24. (Note: This hearing has been pushed back from its originally scheduled date.)
Arrested: May 19 in Strykersville
Case Number: 21-cr-419
Background, charges and plea: John Juran, also known as Jack Juran, was arrested after the FBI investigated an anonymous tip stating Juran was at the Capitol during the riot. He was charged with knowingly entering or remaining in any restricted building or grounds, and violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds.
Juran, seen in photos wearing a cowboy hat with “Trump 2020” written on it, had posted on Facebook about attending the “Stop the Steal” rally that day in Washington. The FBI believes it identified Juran in numerous photos inside the Capitol, where they believe he spent about half an hour. Phone records also placed him inside the building.
In December, Juran entered a similar plea deal as Sunstrum. He pleaded guilty to parading, demonstrating or picketing in a Capitol building, which carries a maximum prison sentence of six months and a fine up to $5,000. He also agreed to pay $500 in restitution for damages caused at the Capitol. The other charges were dropped.
Juran’s sentencing is scheduled for Feb. 23 at 10 a.m.
How to submit a tip to the FBI
The FBI is still welcoming anonymous tips about the Capitol riot. You can call 1-800-CALL-FBI (1-800-225-5324) to report tips and/or information, or you can submit a tip online at tips.fbi.gov. More information can be found here.
“The FBI is seeking the public’s assistance in identifying individuals who made unlawful entry into the U.S. Capitol building and committed various other alleged criminal violations,” they write on their website, “such as destruction of property, assaulting law enforcement personnel, targeting members of the media for assault, and other unlawful conduct, on January 6, 2021, in Washington, D.C.”