WASHINGTON — Over the span of several hours on Jan. 6, Richard Michetti sent his ex-girlfriend text messages and videos that documented his experience "storming" the US Capitol, according to court papers. He also texted that she was a "moron" if she didn't believe the election had been "stolen."
She turned him in to the police the next day.
The texts were featured in newly unsealed charging papers against Michetti this week. He was arrested on Tuesday and then released to home detention at a residence in Ridley Park, Pennsylvania, just south of Philadelphia, while his case goes forward. He's charged with obstructing official proceedings of Congress — a felony crime — as well as several misdemeanors for unlawfully entering a restricted building or grounds and violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds.
The FBI has fielded thousands of tips in the weeks since a mob of hundreds of supporters of now-former president Donald Trump descended on the Capitol as lawmakers met to certify the results of the presidential election. Charging papers show that the alleged rioters' friends, family members, coworkers, former classmates, and, yes, exes have played a pivotal role in helping investigators identify and track down suspects.
Michetti's charging papers describe in detail how his ex gave the FBI everything they needed to build the case against him. In addition to the texts and videos, which created a timeline of his alleged involvement in the insurrection from start to finish, the ex also provided his birthdate, address, phone number, and other information about his phone.
The ex-girlfriend, who isn't named in court filings but is identified as a woman, went to police on Jan. 7. The charging papers don't specify what law enforcement agency she contacted. She then gave a full interview to the FBI on Jan. 11, telling agents that Michetti had gone to Washington because he "believed the election was stolen from President Trump."
The texts that she produced to the FBI begin on Jan. 5, with Michetti messaging her that he was getting on a train and would call once he arrived in Washington. At around 2:06 p.m. on Jan. 6 — soon after waves of rioters had broken past police barricades and entered the building — Michetti texted, "…it’s going down here we stormed the building they held us back with spray and teargas and paintballs." Three minutes later, he sent a text confirming that he'd gone to the Capitol to "stop the vote it’s fraud this is our country."
Roughly a half-hour later, Michetti's ex received two videos from him, both of which appeared to show scenes of rioters inside the Capitol.
At around 4:26 p.m., Michetti texted her, “If you can’t see the election was
stolen you’re a moron." He complained about police using tear gas and pepper spray, saying that the Capitol was "public property."
The charging papers don't say if the ex responded to any of his messages, but at 6:04 p.m. Michetti sent texts that suggested she had engaged with something he said.
"I understand your point but what I’m saying is [W1’s name] the election was rigged and everyone knows it. All’s we wanted was an investigation that’s it," he wrote, followed by more messages that repeated lies that former president Donald Trump and his supporter pushed after the election that the expansion of mail-in voting during the pandemic resulted in widespread fraud.
The FBI agents showed Michetti's ex a photo of a crowd of people standing outside the Capitol, and she identified him as a man wearing a dark baseball hat with a Chicago White Sox logo and a backpack with bright blue straps. A blue mask is pulled down below his chin, revealing his face, and he appears to be looking at a phone. The charging papers show how the FBI then identified him in surveillance camera footage from inside the Capitol by matching the clothing he was wearing outside. The FBI also obtained a receipt from a hotel located near the Capitol, where Michetti had checked in on Jan. 5 and checked out the next day.
Michetti's lawyer did not immediately return a request for comment. He's set to make his next appearance in court on March 1. It's unlikely he'll send any more texts to his ex in the meantime — one of his conditions of release is that he can't contact "potential witnesses" while his case is pending.