Florida

Messianic Rabbi From Florida Arrested for Role in U.S. Capitol Riot

Michael Stepakoff is the rabbi at Temple New Jerusalem, a messianic synagogue located in Palm Harbor

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A rabbi from the Tampa Bay area became the latest person with ties to Florida to be arrested for their alleged role in the U.S. Capitol riot earlier in January.

NBC affiliate WFLA-TV reports the United States Department of Justice has filed several charges against Michael Stepakoff, who was caught on camera among the group that stormed the building on January 6th following a rally for former President Donald Trump.

Stepakoff is the rabbi at Temple New Jerusalem, a messianic synagogue located in Palm Harbor.

Documents from the DOJ say Stepakoff could be seen on surveillance video in the Capitol building, taking photos with his cell phone after entering. Stepakoff later posted photos on social media, including a photo of him with a large group.

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Someone who knew Stepakoff over 20 years ago later identified him to authorities.

“I’m not sure to what extent his presence there makes him guilty of any crime,” said Stepakoff’s attorney, Rick Terrana. “He just followed the crowd over to the capital just intending to be nothing more than a spectator and ended up going into the capital after it was opened up, an hour or so after this incident that we all saw on TV.”

Stepakoff appeared in court Friday on charges that include knowingly entering or remaining in any restricted building or grounds without lawful authority and knowingly engages in disorderly or disruptive conduct in any restricted building or grounds.

He was released on $25,000 bond and ordered to surrender all firearms.

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