A Delaware County man who was turned in by his ex-girlfriend after he called her a “moron” for not believing the 2020 presidential election was stolen has become the latest Pennsylvanian to plead guilty to charges tied to the Capitol riot.
Richard Michetti, 29, of Ridley Township, was arguing with his ex over text messages about his presence among the mob of pro-Trump supporters even as he dodged tear gas and rubber bullets to storm the building.
“If you can’t see the election was stolen, you’re a moron,” he wrote in an exchange with her quoted in court filings. He added later: “This is tyranny. They … told us ‘We rigged the election and there’s nuthin you can do about it.’ What do you think should be done?”
In a hearing before U.S. District Judge Christopher R. Cooper on Tuesday in Washington, Michetti admitted to sending that text while fleeing the Capitol building after spending roughly 35 minutes taunting police officers inside.
He pleaded guilty to one count of aiding and abetting obstruction of an official proceeding, a felony punishable by up to 20 years in prison. He is likely to receive far less time at his sentencing hearing in September. Federal sentencing guidelines call for a prison term of 15 to 21 months.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Mona Furst told the court security footage showed Michetti, dressed in a hoodie, White Sox baseball cap, and surgical mask, entering the Capitol’s Upper West Terrace roughly 20 minutes after the initial breach of the building on Jan. 6, 2021.
He made his way to the Rotunda and took several videos while shouting taunts at security staff like “We feed your family” and “You are just taking orders.”
At one point, Furst said, Michetti began “gesticulating at the officers … and briefly pinched the sleeve” of another before yelling that he and the rest of the crowd were “starting a civil war.”
He again surfaced on security footage rubbing his eyes on his way out of the building, Furst said, suggesting he may have been hit with tear gas.
“This election was rigged, and everyone knows it,” Michetti texted his ex as he fled. “All’s we wanted was an investigation that’s it. And they couldn’t investigate the biggest presidential race in history with mail in ballots who everyone knows is easy to fraud” — a false claim repeated by Donald Trump and his allies in the days surrounding the attack.
She turned him in to the FBI the next day, according to court filings.
In court Tuesday, Michetti said little as Cooper walked him through a series of standard questions before deciding to accept his guilty plea. The judge asked whether Furst had incorrectly characterized any of his actions that day.
Sullenly, Michetti replied: “No, she didn’t.”
Most have been defendants who faced misdemeanor counts alleging that they entered the Capitol building without permission and were not directly involved with more serious violence against police or in on planning the attack.
Of the 17 who have been sentenced so far, only five have received terms of incarceration. The rest were sentenced to terms of probation or house arrest.
In all, federal authorities have charged more than 800 people nationwide — including 69 from Pennsylvania — for participating in the riot.