Accused Rioter Arrested After Turtle Photo Surfaces

Ralph Joseph Celentano identified in photo from fundraiser for the animals
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 10, 2022 2:17 PM CST
Accused Capitol Rioter Arrested in Odd Fashion
Capitol Police officers stand outside a door on the Senate side of the Capitol during the violence of Jan. 6, 2021.   (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta, File)

Another accused Capitol rioter has been arrested, but this case has an odd twist. If the account of the Department of Justice is correct, the suspect has no qualms about pushing somebody off a ledge, but he apparently has a soft spot for turtles. On Wednesday, authorities arrested 54-year-old Ralph Joseph Celentano III of Queens. Among other things, he is accused of blind-siding an officer who was peering over a ledge with a "football-type tackle" and sending the officer onto the terrace below, reports the AP. The officer, a veteran of the Iraq War, would later tell investigators that he recalled thinking, “I didn’t survive a war to go out like this," per the DOJ.

The person who shoved the officer had long hair and a lawn chair affixed to his backpack, making him relatively easy to spot throughout the day, say authorities. He also allegedly showed up on officers' body-cam video as he physically clashed with them. Still, getting a possible identification proved elusive, and that's where the turtles come into play. Investigators received a tip that included an image of Celentano at a fundraiser for the Jenny Albert Sea Turtle Foundation in the Queens neighborhood of Broad Channel, reports the Washington Post.

A volunteer with the group identified Celentano, and a long-time acquaintance told investigators that he was the same person in the photos and videos from the Capitol. Celentano, who faces federal charges including civil disorder, assaulting an officer, disorderly conduct, and entering a restricted building, has been released on $50,000 bail. He is one of more than 775 people arrested so far over the riot. (The first defendant to go on trial was convicted this week of all five felony counts against him.)

We use cookies. By Clicking "OK" or any content on this site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. Read more in our privacy policy.
Get the news faster.
Tap to install our app.
Install the Newser News app
in two easy steps:
1. Tap in your navigation bar.
2. Tap to Add to Home Screen.