Sealed Filings: The Serial Arrests of Insurrectionists Peter Stager, Jeffrey Sabol, and Michael Lopatic

Because I’ve been closely tracking the slow roll-out of the people behind the close to 140 assaults on cops on January 6, I’d like to look at how the arrests of three men indicted today, Peter Stager, Jeffrey Sabol, and Michael Lopatic were rolled out by DOJ. They were indicted for the assault on a cop, BM, dragged down the steps and repeated beaten while in a prone position.

After a different cop, CM, attempted to help, Lopatic punched him repeatedly.

Lopatic then walked down to BM and removed his body camera. He threw the camera away on his way home to Lancaster, PA.

Sabol was also charged with assaulting a third cop, AW.

What appears to have happened is that Sabol, realizing what he had done, went off the deep end and got stopped by cops on January 11 in NY. He admitted he was at the riot, but (even after telling cops he was “wanted by the FBI”), he claimed he had only been trying to protect BM, the officer he assaulted with a police baton.

The next day, cops started fielding tips that Stager was the one caught on tape saying, “Everybody in there is a treasonous traitor. Death is the only remedy for what’s in that building.”

Both Sabol and Stager were charged on January 14, but only with impeding an officer (18 USC 231), not assault.

It’s not yet clear how the FBI found Lopatic, but on January 20, they sent out a BOLO on him and eight others in conjunction with an assault on two DC cops.

When DOJ indicted all three men on January 29, they had IDed but not yet located Lopatic. The motion to seal described that Lopatic — who had taken BM’s body worn camera and disposed of it on his way home — might continue to flee prosecution (though that may be boilerplate).

In other words, while they had the first two main perpetrators of one of the more alarming attacks on cops identified within a week of the attack, DOJ undercharged them and waited to indict them to ensure they’d have Lopatic in custody before revealing any assault charges on the first two.

DOJ is beginning to release charging documents on more of the assault defendants. But with many of them — including Lopatic — it’s clear they’re willing to do more to avoid arrest.

Which is likely why, over a month after the attack, DOJ has still just identified about 35 people responsible for the 139 assaults on cops.


January 11: Clarkstown, NY, police stop Jeffrey Sabol’s car for driving erratically. He tells them, “I am tired, I am done fighting,” “My wounds are self-inflicted,” I was, “fighting tyranny in the DC Capital,” “I am wanted by the FBI.”

January 12: FBI receives a tip that Peter Stager is the person a video saying, “Everybody in there is a treasonous traitor. Death is the only remedy for what’s in that building,” and seen dragging MPD cop “BM” down the steps in front of the Capitol. Another person describes Stager as the one beating the cop with a flagpole.

January 13: Law Enforcement interviews Sabol. He claims the first assault of a cop caught on tape was actually him, “patting him on the back” and saying, “we got you man.” He claims the second assault — in which he was depicted hitting a cop with a police baton — was him attempting to “protect the officer.”

January 14: Peter Stager charged with just civil disorder, 18 USC 231. Jeffrey Sabol charged, again with just civil disorder.

January 20: FBI releases BOLO poster of Lopatic.

January 29: Sealed indictment obtained against Stager, Sabol, and Lopatic. It charged Stager and Sabol with beating BM with a police baton and a flagpole, Sabol of assaulting a third officer (AW), Lopatic of assaulting CM That day DOJ moved to seal the indictment because,

Defendant Lopatic has not been arrested. Law enforcement is locating the defendant and preparing to arrest him. Moreover, law enforcement is endeavoring to identify additional individuals who were involved in the assaultive conduct in the instant case.

Placing the defendants’ indictment on the public docket at this time could cause the defendant to flee or continue flight from prosecution…

February 3: Lopatic arrested.

February 9: Motion to unseal indictment, motion for detention for Lopatic.

34 replies
  1. harpie says:

    Does the fact that the 2/9 motion to unseal was made mean anything about this part of the 1/29 indictment:“law enforcement is endeavoring to identify additional individuals who were involved in the assaultive conduct in the instant case.”?

        • Eureka says:

          Uh Oh, why? Did they land in the comment pokey? Outer space?

          [I keep looking, I don’t see anything.]

          ETA: oh noes, it’s that thing where they just get vaporized and you’re alone in your torture, isn’t it?

          That sucks, am familiar.

          You pass my pseudo-Turing Test any day, harpie, just so yo know ;)

        • Eureka says:

          As long as this has sidecarred into wonky algorithms, twitter has been experimenting lately. When you go to EW’s page it’s recommending:

          You Might Like:
          Greg Sargent (thumbs up, but more associated with bmaz)
          David Frum (hrm…)
          Seth Abramson (no comment)

          ^ That’s the original order they’d presented these options, but now Abramson is at the top.

          This after months, years of the same normal recs like southpaw, etc.

          On bmaz’ they are promoting a sports bettor which is sure to piss him off — probably karma for his claiming that “sports trash talk” is not serious, ahem.

          Good news, harpie!

        • Eureka says:

          Well, yeah, I was rating them The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly. Perhaps this is jack’s latest plan to enrich people’s lives. Sounds about right.

          I liked the prior, sensible links to people like popehat, Bertrand, southpaw, forget who else but they all made great sense more or less.

          Adding: huh, that’s funny. Yours used to link to popehat (among others) so checked his to see what that’s been changed to and it’s also a sports bettor.

          Too bad Leopold can’t FOIA twitter, I bet now that there is *literally* a plan called The Good/Bad/Ugly…

        • bmaz says:

          Yes, know nothing about their algorithms, but every now and then I look at the “who to follow” thing and about roll over.

  2. e.a.f. says:

    Why can’t they find this man or the others? The F.B.I. is a rather large organization Then they could ask other police forces to keep an eye out. We do have the technology to produce pictures of people who are to be arrested.

    Not charging them with “bigger” crimes so they don’t go into hiding, is in my opinion, ridiculous. It doesn’t make sense. What I saw on t.v. it looked like they were if not trying to kill police officers, they were certainly trying very hard to do them a great deal of damage. The charges should reflect what was done.

    I remember some who were charged back in the day for blowing up things, etc. were all eventually caught or turned themselves in, even a great deal of time later. When I think back to those cases and now these, there is a difference.

    Perhaps trying to kill a police officer just isn’t as important as blowing things up or robbing banks. One can be replaced, the other, well that cost some corporation money.

    • Peterr says:

      Not charging them immediately with bigger crimes is also a very good way to lure others higher up in the ranks of the insurrection’s organizers into doing something to reveal themselves to the FBI, or to induce lower level folks to provide information on those who did the organizing.

      “We’ve already charged you with A, B, and C, and we’re willing to leave it at that if you can offer us a little help finding the big fish who directed this attack. If not, then we’ve got charges D, E, and F. lined up and ready to file. And trust me: you really don’t want to see charge F get filed. Don’t believe me? Just ask your lawyer about charge F.”

      Right now, all the FBI is trying to do in court is keep these folks under wraps while the larger investigation goes on. They aren’t showing all their cards yet — not to the defendants, not to the judges, and certainly not to people who haven’t been arrested yet.

    • Michael Schmitt says:

      The rioter who appears in FBI Photograph #123 – AFO is clearly the individual who violently tore off Officer Hodges’s gas mask in the East Terrace entrance. I’m still waiting for him to be identified. The FBI needs to start offering rewards.

      • emptywheel says:

        I wouldn’t presume that they haven’t IDed the ones you don’t yet know about. The entire point of this post is that they seem to be holding assault charges until they get all the defendants involved, which is why they delayed on releasing the Jan 29 indictment here.

  3. Vinnie Gambone says:

    Curious, how many of the people in these aerial shots are strangers to each other? How many of those who boarded DC bound charter buses were meeting passengers for the first time? If me and my buddy rush the gate to get into a concert or ball game, likely I’m going to stay with my buddy for the duration. Can’t shake the impression there are lot of people by them self, on their own. Lopatic, Stager Sabol being from 3 different states likely didn’t know each other but they are linked forever now. Might we start to see joint defense agreements? Despicable as these people are, I hate thinking they’ll do time and Trump’s gang won’t.

    • Peterr says:

      Lopatic, Stager Sabol being from 3 different states likely didn’t know each other but they are linked forever now.

      I disagree, at least in theory.

      The Proud Boys, Oath Keepers, 3%ers, et al. are organizations with local groups in all kinds of places around the country, but they get around, and folks get to know each other across state lines — even if only by pseudonyms used online.

      I wouldn’t recognize earlofhuntingdon or scribe in a crowd, but if Marcy or bmaz came walking up to me with one of them in tow and introduced him to me, they wouldn’t be introducing me to a stranger.

      I’m not saying that everyone at the Capitol on 1/6 knew each other like that, but it’s fairly likely they share some connections that cross state lines.

      • subtropolis says:

        In fact, we need only look at the Whitmer kidnap plotters. They’d planned to act in Michigan, but had met or trained in at least two other states.

      • BobCon says:

        1/6 was the third extremist event in DC since the election. I think it’s pretty likely the first two served in part as networking opportunities, so even if people hadn’t met, they were reducing the degrees of separation on 1/6.

        • timbo says:

          Yep. Cannot underestimate national level protests in DC facilitating cooperation between organizations and individuals from different states. In this case it’s insurrectionists… which is new (or mostly new anyways) in the long history of protest movements using DC as a fulcrum for more or less law abiding movements.

    • harpie says:

      Here’s an interesting thread from earlier this month, from one of the reporters of the NYT Oath Keepers stories:
      9:09 PM · Feb 6, 2021

      The Daily Beast’s @arawnsley followed up on this story, highlighting the connections between the Oath Keeper and his apparent security role to Trump’s advisors and supporters, like Mike Flynn and Alex Jones: [link]

      An interesting snippet is that this Oath Keeper was photographed during the Nov. 14 ‘Million MAGA March’ with the now infamous Proud Boy Dominic “Spazzo” Pezzola. Enrique Tarrio, the Proud Boys’ leader, posted that pic on Parler, under which [Oath Keeper] Minuta replied, “See you Jan 6.” [screenshot]

      From the screenshot:

      Enrique Tarrio @NobleLead
      I week ago [eye?symbol] 103588
      Lords of War.
      #J6 #J20
      [PHOTO of Pezzola and Minuta on 11/14]

      Roberto Minuta @Robertominuta [responding]
      1 week ago [?eye?symbol] 79
      Bad ass! Thanks @NobleLead for the picture! Honor to stand with you guys. See you Jan 6

  4. Midtowngirl says:

    Hey there. I’m a longtime reader/ lurker, and I especially appreciate the insights and analysis generated in the comments. I’ve tried joining in only twice before – and both times received a pretty vicious slap down, so I’m sucking it up and hopefully the third time will be a charm!
    I’ve been active with the #SeditionHunters on Twitter, and have actually managed to track down one of the insurrectionists on the FBI wanted list, and turn his info into the authorities. He was low-hanging fruit, and an incidental find while searching for info on another wanted who is a key figure, but not mentioned, in the incident discussed here.
    I’m trying to track the guy who used a crutch to attack police, then dragged Officer B.M. down the stairs by his helmet. On Twitter, his hashtag is #Scallops. On the FBI website, he is Photograph #131 – AFO.

    I was hoping you all might share your thoughts on this guy, or anything you may have seen that could be helpful. I’ve reached a point where I feel I need some fresh perspective, so anything you folks could share would be greatly appreciated!

  5. Badger Robert says:

    OT: Senators Durbin and Grassley seem to have an agreement and a calendar planned for the confirmation of Judge Garland as US Attorney General. It could be a very important event for the United States.

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