NEW YORK (AP) — The son of a New York City judge who was arrested by the FBI on charges that he was among the protesters who stormed the U.S. Capitol was ordered Tuesday by a different judge to stay away from Washington.
Aaron Mostofsky, 34, was picked up at his brother’s home in Brooklyn on Tuesday morning, about a week after he was seen inside the Capitol wearing a fur costume and a police vest he is accused of stealing during the mayhem.
At a teleconference hearing in federal court in Brooklyn, Mostofsky’s lawyer argued that the evidence didn’t back up the accusations. Mostofsky was released on $100,000 bond but banned from traveling Washington except for purposes of prosecution of his case there.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Josh Hafetz told a magistrate judge in Brooklyn federal court that the government would agree to Mostofsky’s release even though it was “deeply troubled by the conduct of the defendant” in a “mob attack.”
The charges include a felony count of theft of government property — a bulletproof police vest worth $1,905 and a riot shield valued at $265.
Court papers show how investigators are combing through internet communications to identify alleged offenders like Mostofsky, who referred to himself as a “caveman” eager to protest the presidential election results.
FBI agents were seen on a social media clip posted Tuesday appearing to remove part of his fur getup from the residence where he was arrested.
Mostofsky’s unusual garb made him stand out from the crowd of camouflage-wearing, flag-waving marauders. At one point, he was photographed sitting on a bench near the Senate chamber holding a stick and the riot shield, which he said he picked up off the floor.
He also gave a video interview inside the building, telling the New York Post he was there “to express my opinion as a free American that this election was stolen.”
Before the protest, Mostofsky messaged another demonstrator that he could be found at the protest by looking for “a caveman,” adding, “Even a caveman knows it was stolen,” the court papers said. Afterward, as his photo circulated, he said the image was unfortunate because “now people actually know me,” they add.
Mostofsky’s father is Steven Mostofsky, a state court judge in Brooklyn. He has not responded to requests for comment made through court administrators.
Aaron Mostofsky’s brother, Neil, and defense attorney Jeffrey Schwartz were on the court teleconference and assured the judge the man would comply with his bail conditions.
“I believe the evidence will show he was not part of the mob,” Schwartz said. “He understands how the whole thing in Washington got out of hand.”
Neil Mostofsky is the executive director of Chovevei Zion, the The Jewish Heritage Preservation Society, and vice president of the South Brooklyn Conservative Club.
He told Gothamist last week that his brother “did nothing illegal,” “was not part of the riot” and was only in the Capitol because he was “pushed inside.”
Records show Aaron Mostofsky is a registered Democrat.
Associated Press writers Michael R. Sisak and Mike Balsamo in Washington contributed to this report.