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Two Massachusetts residents were arrested by FBI agents Tuesday and charged in connection with the riot at the U.S. Capitol earlier this month.
Suzanne Ianni, 59, of Natick, and Mark Sahady, 46, of Malden, were both charged with disorderly conduct and knowingly entering or remaining in a restricted building or grounds without lawful authority, federal authorities said. Both appeared in Boston federal court Tuesday afternoon.
Sahady was held pending a detention hearing later this week. Ianni was released on her own recognizance under several conditions. Among them, Ianni was to remain in Massachusetts, surrender her passport, undergo mental health treatment and not contact other victims or witnesses in the case. The judge also ordered Ianni not to organize protests or rallies, or go near the State House for "the foreseeable future."
According to the criminal complaint, Ianni, a Natick Town Meeting member, was described as being actively involved with the group "Super Happy Fun America," (SHFA) whose members include far-right provocateurs and who previously organized the so-called "Straight Pride Parade" in Boston in 2019. Sahady is the group's vice president, authorities said in court documents.
Assistant U.S. Attorney for Massachusetts William Bloomer asked that Ianni be ordered to stay away from the State House because "we expect demonstrations there over the next week or so."
Ianni appeared visibly shaken during the remote hearing and agreed to the conditions of her release. Her attorney, Henry Fasoldt, said he consulted with her about the conditions and "in principle" she was not opposed.
U.S. District Court Judge Jennifer Boal said Ianni will have to appear at a virtual hearing in Washington, D.C., later this month. She faces up to one year in federal prison, and up to $100,000 in fines.
Both cases will be prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia.
An attorney for Sahady, Jane Peachy, pointed out during his court appearance Tuesday that Ianni faced the same charges and was released, adding there was no evidence to suggest Sahady posed a threat.
But Bloomer told the court that because of Sahady's leadership role in SHFA, as well as statements he made when he was arrested Tuesday, the government believed he posed a public safety risk and should be held. Bloomer said Sahady told his mother not to turn over his cell phone and not to allow authorities to search his room.
"This defendant was part of an organized horde that resulted in the murder of a police officer, the deaths of four others and injuries to 60 others," Bloomer said as he argued for Sahady's detention. He did not suggest conditions for Sahady's release.
Attorney Rinaldo Del Gallo, who will take over representing Sahady after Tuesday, said Sahady did what anyone charged with a federal crime should do and not turn over potential evidence.
"The only evidence is that he organized bus trips and other people did bad things," Del Gallo told the court. "That's not compelling, and it's dangerous because you're punishing people for First Amendment activities."
"Absolutely not," Bloomer interjected.
Del Gallo argued Sahady did not do anything illegal, but was exercising his First Amendment free speech rights on Jan. 6.
"Although I am a progressive Democrat that opposes many things that Mr. Sahady supports, I am a staunch defender of his right to free speech and to voice his political opinion," Del Gallo said in an emailed statement Tuesday. "Mr. Mark Sahady is a war veteran, a patriot and a supporter of President Trump. While these three things may have become unfashionable of late, they are not criminal."
Photos Of Defendants On Bus To Washington
In the criminal complaint in the case, FBI Special Agent Brian Gutierrez said law enforcement obtained information from Sahady's and Ianni's online posts.
According to court documents, SHFA made several social media posts about its plans to be in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 6. Authorities said a post to Twitter showed a photo of Sahady and Ianni on a bus traveling from Massachusetts to the nation's capital.
That post's caption read: "Bus 1 of 11 coming to Washington DC See you there!" authorities said. Both Ianni and Sahady were also photographed together inside the Capitol, authorities said.
"Open source information further uncovered that IANNI organized the buses for Super Happy Fun America to transport individuals to Washington, D.C. for the January 6, 2021 event," the criminal complaint said. "Specifically, IANNI spoke to a local news station and was interviewed for a public article stating that she was the 'lead organizer of the 11 buses that left Massachusetts on Tuesday for the ride to Washington.' "
Massachusetts U.S. Attorney Andrew Lelling said the two could face more charges from his office. Lelling previously said his office is looking into any planning for the U.S. Capitol attack that happened in Massachusetts.
"If we wanted to charge someone here in Massachusetts, we'd basically have to show that they left here with the intent to cross state lines to D.C. and engage in some kind of mayhem in D.C.," Lelling told WBUR's Radio Boston Tuesday. "We don't have that with these two defendants — at least not yet. The investigation is still active."
Last week, the Natick Select Board said it had no authority to remove Ianni from her post as a Town Meeting member in response to a petition calling for her dismissal after she posted about her organizing efforts.
Natick Select Board Chair Jonathan Freedman released an email statement in support of the FBI's actions, adding that there should be "accountability for those who acted unlawfully and for the leaders and others who encouraged or supported such actions by words and deeds."
The statement also said that because Town Meeting members are elected by voters, they are not employees who can be removed by town officials. However, Freedman noted that "any future actions that may be contemplated or undertaken by any entity regarding Ms. Ianni's position as a Natick Town Meeting Member will be guided by the applicable legal statutes."
Ben Jackson, a Natick resident who organized the petition drive against Ianni, argued that she should be removed because of her participation in the events in D.C. and because she violated coronavirus safety protocols. Jackson said he hopes the town takes further action following Ianni's arrest Tuesday.
"It's a great first step," Jackson said. "But it doesn't remove her from government, so it can't be the last step."
With additional reporting from The Associated Press
This article was originally published on January 19, 2021.
This segment aired on January 19, 2021.
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