WASHINGTON, D.C., USA — Investigators say a Lakeland woman accused of storming the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 allegedly told someone in a private chat she was, indeed, among the crowd who entered the building: "Obv[iously] broke in because it was locked."
A recently-unsealed criminal complaint against 31-year-old Corinne Montoni shows it was a tip to the FBI a day after the Capitol insurrection that led the bureau to begin looking into her. According to the FBI, the tipster reported seeing videos of a woman who looked like Montoni and reading posts that discussed taking over the Capitol.
Montoni, 31, was arrested Tuesday, March 9, at her home and charged with the following:
- Obstruction of an official proceeding
- Entering and remaining; Disorderly and disruptive conduct in restricted building or grounds
- Disorderly conduct; Parading, demonstrating, or picketing in a Capitol building
- Aiding and abetting the commission of these offenses against the United States
Her next court appearance is scheduled for Monday, May 10.
The FBI says the tipster told authorities that videos posted on Facebook showed Montoni bragging about being inside the Capitol building. Montoni also reportedly posted about returning to Washington, D.C., for the inauguration of then-President-elect Joe Biden, the complaint said. But when the tipster went to check on the messages again, they had been deleted, according to the complaint.
The individual had screenshots of Montoni's alleged messages, though, and the FBI said it was able to confirm the images with records obtained from Facebook.
"We tried going to the courts," the deleted message read, in part. "We tried showing evidence. We tried the nice and legal way but when corruption runs so deep for so long, that doesn't work....Today we showed them how done we are."
"The Capitol building belongs to US, we the people. This is our house....We broke a few windows, sure but we were a peaceful protest occupying the people's property."
The complaint notes another person, this time a close acquaintance of Montoni, tipped off the FBI also the day after the riots and told the agency there was imagery on Facebook of Montoni saying it was "awesome" and "intense."
A third person interviewed by the FBI reportedly told the agency they watched a video posted to Facebook that had Montoni saying "we have entered the Capitol" and "this belongs to us," according to the complaint.
The FBI investigated additional messages it says were posted by Montoni on social media – including Facebook, Instagram and the conservative platform, Parler – prior to the Capitol riot. According to the complaint, some of them read, in part:
- "Trump called us to dc jan 6th [sic]."
- "If Pence betrays us, we riot."
- “I was there. We were 99% MAGA. I didn’t see one ANTIFA. And I was inside the Capitol."
Five people died in the attack on the U.S. Capitol, including Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick who worked to defend the building after former President Donald Trump urged his supporters to "fight like hell" to overturn his defeat in the election.
The U.S. Supreme Court gave one of the last legal blows to the former president earlier this month when it rejected an appeal of a lower court ruling that upheld Wisconsin's handling of mail-in ballots. Trump lost nearly all his legal challenges, including those heard by judges he appointed.
Elections officials across the country and even members of Trump's own administration, including former Attorney General William Barr, have said there was no widespread voter fraud that would have changed the election outcome.
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