Broad Channel man gets more than six years in prison for assaulting law enforcement during Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol: Feds

Broad Channel resident Ralph Joseph Celentano III was sentenced to more than six years in federal prison for assaulting police officers during the riot at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.
Photos courtesy of the Eastern District of New York

A Broad Channel man who blind-sided a police officer and shoved him over a ledge at the U.S. Capitol Building during the Jan.6, 2021 riot, was sentenced to 6 1/2 years in federal prison, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia.

Photo courtesy of the Eastern District of New York

Ralph Joseph Celentano III, 46, was sentenced Tuesday to 78 months in prison and 36 months of supervised release after a jury convicted him in June on two felony charges, including assaulting, resisting, or impeding officers and civil disorder and related misdemeanor offenses.

When imposing the sentence, U.S. District Judge Timothy Kelly told Celentano that his conduct was “disgraceful,” calling the attack on the officer “a truly cowardly and despicable thing to do.” Federal agents raided Celentano’s Broad Channel home on Mar. 9, 2022 after the FBI identified him through a 2018 photo that investigators discovered on Facebook that showed him attending a fundraiser for the Jenny Albert Sea Turtle Foundation in Broad Channel.

According to court documents, Celentano traveled from Queens to Washington, D.C. and attended the” Stop the Steal” rally on the Ellipse, a park south of the White House, and afterward made his way to the Peace Monument on U.S. Capitol grounds, just outside the restricted perimeter.

There, he was recorded saying, “Someone’s gotta do something!” When he was asked what exactly should be done, Celentano replied, “Occupy the Capitol, it’s our building.”

Celentano then worked his way through thousands of people on the west side of the Capitol to get to the very front of the mob that was confronting a police line, shouting at officers, “How dare you pathetic pieces of sh–.”

Celentano and other rioters linked arms and marched straight at the police officers breaking through the line on the West Plaza. Celentano then used his body weight and momentum to make physical contact with a Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) Officer and fought with other officers who had been on the line. Celentano chased one officer for eight to 10 feet before shoving that officer.

Photo courtesy of the Eastern District of New York

He then blind-sided a U.S. Capitol Police (USCP) Officer from behind, lifting him off his feet and over a 5-foot-high ledge, with the officer landing on people below. Those assaults took place in under two minutes.

Photo courtesy of the Eastern District of New York

Celentano remained on the West Plaza for at least another 45 minutes. He recorded a video of the huge mob and triumphantly proclaimed, “We did it boys, we stormed the Capitol. Here we are, for all to see. A sea of American patriots.”

Over the next few days, Celentano sent several text messages and posted on the social media network Parler about the Jan. 6 riot. Among his messages, Celentano indicated he had fought the Capitol Police and won, taken over the Capitol and stated that it was a day he would always remember and that he would do it all over again.

Celentano was captured on video and security cameras during the riot and his long hair, a blue Donald Trump baseball hat, a two-toned jacket, flag and folding chair attached to his backpack, made him distinctive in the mob that swarmed the Capitol, according to court documents.

The officer who Celentano blind-sided and tossed onto the terrace below turned out to be an Iraq war veteran who recalled thinking, “I didn’t survive a war to go out like this,” according to federal prosecutors.

In the 36 months since Jan. 6, 2021, more than 1,265 individuals have been charged in nearly all 50 states for crimes related to the breach of the U.S. Capitol, including more than 440 individuals charged with assaulting or impeding law enforcement, a felony. The investigation remains ongoing and anyone with tips can call 1-800-CALL-FBI or visit tips.fbi.gov.