Federal agents raided the Broad Channel home of 54-year-old Ralph Joseph Celentano early Wednesday morning, March 9, and charged him in the assault of a police officer during the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol Building.
The FBI identified Celentano through a 2018 photo that investigators discovered on Facebook that shows him attending a fundraiser for the Jenny Albert Sea Turtle Foundation in Broad Channel.
Agents continued to search his home while Celentano was awaiting arraignment in Brooklyn federal court. He has been charged in a criminal complaint filed in the District of Columbia with assaulting, resisting or impeding officers, civil disorder, engaging in physical violence in a restricted building or grounds and entering and other crimes, according to federal prosecutors.
Celentano was captured on video and security cameras during the riot and his long hair, a blue Donald Trump baseball cap, a two-toned jacket, flag and folding chair attached to his backpack, made him distinctive in the crowd that swarmed the Capitol Building, according to court documents.
E-ZPass records showed Celentano and a passenger traveled from Broad Channel to Washington, D.C., on the morning of Jan. 6, 2020, and returned to Broad Channel the following the riot. Video surveillance of the Capitol breach shows Celentano on the west terrace approaching a Capitol Police Officer from behind, making physical contact that caused the officer to fall over a ledge.
The officer, identified by his initials K.E., later recalled being “blind-sided” from behind in a “football-type tackle” without warning, causing him to fall over the ledge to a terrace below.
The officer stated his main concern was getting up so he would not be “stomped on.” He went on to say that he was frightened and no longer felt safe on the lower terrace amongst such a large crowd. The officer added that he probably sustained injuries during the fall, but he had so much adrenaline at the time that he could not be sure. The officer did find bumps and bruises on his body but did not seek medical attention. The officer is an Iraq war veteran who recalled thinking, “I didn’t survive a war to go out like this,” according to federal prosecutors.
Body-worn camera footage obtained from the D.C. Metropolitan Police Department provided additional evidence of Celentano engaging in several physical altercations with uniformed law enforcement personnel on the Capitol grounds, according to court documents.
In the 14 months since the Capitol riot, more than 775 people have been arrested in nearly all 50 states for crimes related to the breach while Congress was attempting to certify the presidential election. More than 245 people have been charged with assaulting or impeding law enforcement and the investigation remains ongoing.