Feds Charge CEO From The Chicago Suburbs In Pro-Trump Insurrection At U.S. Capitol

Electoral College Protests
Supporters of President Donald Trump climb the West wall of the the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021, in Washington. Jose Luis Magana / AP Photo
Electoral College Protests
Supporters of President Donald Trump climb the West wall of the the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021, in Washington. Jose Luis Magana / AP Photo

Feds Charge CEO From The Chicago Suburbs In Pro-Trump Insurrection At U.S. Capitol

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A CEO from Chicago’s northwest suburbs was among 13 people accused of federal crimes for their alleged roles in the violent insurrection two days ago at the U.S. Capitol.

Federal prosecutors in Washington announced Friday that they had filed charges against Bradley Rukstales, a campaign contributor to President Donald Trump who lives in Inverness and was arrested at the Capitol on Wednesday.

He had been the chief executive of Cogensia, a Schaumburg-based marketing consulting firm. But a couple hours after the charges were unsealed, the company said it fired Rukstales.

On Thursday evening, Rukstales had issued a statement saying he was “deeply regretful” to have entered the Capitol with other Trump backers through “an open set of doors” and condemned the violence, which included the death of a police officer.

But Rukstales, 52, allegedly was one of six people “positioned toward the front” of a crowd that was “shouting and cursing” at Capitol police officers who encountered them on the building’s upper level, near the atrium of the U.S. House of Representative, according to newly released federal court records.

In a sworn statement unsealed Friday, an officer said the crowd was told to leave the Capitol “in a loud and clear voice” but instead had “willfully refused the order to leave” before Rukstales and the five officers near him were handcuffed and arrested.

The officer also said the crowd was “making loud noises, and kicking chairs, throwing an unknown liquid substance at officers, and spraying an unknown substance at officers.”

Rukstales is charged with breaking federal law prohibiting “violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds” and doing so “with intent to impede government business or official functions.”

After hearing speeches from Trump and his allies on Wednesday, the crowd of his supporters stormed by officers and barged into the Capitol — just as Congress was poised to ratify the results of the November presidential election, which Trump lost to Democrat Joe Biden.

The violence by the pro-Trump mob led to an hours-long lockdown of the U.S. government’s legislative branch. Some of the insurrectionists entered the chambers of the House and Senate before the unprecedented revolt was quelled. The deaths of five people were attributed to the insurrection, including a police officer, a female Trump supporter shot by authorities, and three others whom police said had medical emergencies.

In addition to Rukstales, the 12 other defendants named Friday included a man from Arkansas who was photographed sitting at House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s desk and others charged with threatening Pelosi, hitting an officer and carrying firearms.

“The lawless destruction of the U.S. Capitol building was an attack against one of our nation’s greatest institutions,” said Michael Sherwin, the acting U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia. “We are resolute in our commitment to holding accountable anyone responsible for these disgraceful criminal acts.”

And FBI Director Christopher Wray said the charges unveiled Friday marked “just the beginning” of the investigation into what was widely viewed as a coup attempt.

After police announced his arrest Thursday morning, Rukstales’ company moved to distance itself from what it said were his own personal actions, placing him on a leave of absence.

But in a statement Friday, the company said its board of directors “terminated” Rukstales because of the criminal case in Washington.

“This decision was made because Rukstales’ actions were inconsistent with the core values of Cogensia,” said the new acting CEO, Joel Schiltz, in the statement. “Cogensia condemns what occurred at the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday and we intend to continue to embrace the values of integrity, diversity and transparency in our business operations, and expect all employees to embrace those values as well.”

Rukstales and a public-relations consultant who had issued the apology on his behalf did not return messages.

Rukstales and his wife have made numerous contributions to campaign committees for Trump and to the Republican National Committee, election records show.

A neighbor in Inverness said the family had displayed a large Trump campaign sign in front of their 3,500-square-foot home, which sits on nearly an acre.

Another Trump supporter from the Chicago suburbs, 48-year-old tattoo artist David Fitzgerald of Roselle, also was arrested Wednesday evening near the Capitol.

Fitzgerald was charged in the D.C. court system with “unlawful entry on federal ground” and violating a curfew instituted in Washington in the wake of the violence at the Capitol. Fitzgerald pleaded not guilty Thursday.

And on Friday, Fitzgerald told WBEZ he had not heard the warnings to leave and was unaware that the curfew began about 90 minutes before he and other Trump supporters were arrested. He spent Wednesday night in jail in Washington.

Dan Mihalopoulos is an investigative reporter on WBEZ’s Government & Politics Team.