Leaders of Florida church arrested in connection to Capitol riot
A father and son duo who lead a Florida church have been arrested in connection with the Jan. 6 Capitol riot after a member of their congregation, who also faces charges from the mob attack, helped link authorities to the men.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia announced Thursday that James “Jim” Varnell Cusick Jr., and his son, Casey Cusick, had both been charged with knowingly entering and remaining in a restricted area and disorderly or disruptive conduct in a restricted building, as well as violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds.
According to court documents, the FBI received anonymous tips earlier this year that the Cusicks, who lead the Global Outreach Ministries church in Melbourne, Fla., along with church member David Lesperance, had traveled to Washington, D.C., and allegedly entered the Capitol on Jan. 6 and took videos while inside.
Authorities said that Lesperance in a voluntary interview “admitted that his pastor was also present at President Trump’s speech and then at the U.S. Capitol afterwards,” but refused to identify his pastor by name.
Authorities said in the court filings that they were then able to obtain cellphone data associated with the men, as well as Lesperance’s iCloud account, through which they found location data indicating that the men were located in an area that included the inside of the Capitol building on Jan. 6.
FBI agents also found cellphone photos taken of the Cusicks before and after the riot, in which they were wearing the same clothes they were allegedly seen wearing in Capitol security footage and body-worn camera footage from law enforcement.
According to Department of Justice (DOJ) records, the Cusicks and Lesperance each made their initial court appearance at the U.S. District Court in Orlando, where they were released on $25,000 bond each, a court spokesperson told local CBS affiliate station WKMG.
The father, 72, founded the Melbourne church, according to its website, with Casey Cusick, 35, listed as the vice president in business filing documents.
Jim Cusick, who according to the church’s website has four children and seven grandchildren, describes himself as “a world traveler, having been to more than 25 countries.”
It was not immediately clear if the father and son had lawyers representing them in the case.
The Hill has reached out to Global Outreach Ministries for comment on the charges.
The filings came the same day Attorney General Merrick Garland announced that authorities had now arrested more than 500 individuals in connection with the Jan. 6 riot that occurred as lawmakers were meeting to certify President Biden’s 2020 election win.
The DOJ on Thursday also filed charges against its first Capitol rioter suspected of attacking a member of the media.