Former CEO of Schaumburg firm becomes first Illinoisan to plead guilty in U.S. Capitol breach
The former CEO of a Schaumburg tech firm tossed a chair toward U.S. Capitol police officers who were "dozens of feet away" and had to be dragged behind a police line to be arrested during the Jan. 6 breach that interrupted the Electoral College vote count.
Those details surfaced as Bradley Rukstales, 53, of Inverness, on Tuesday became the first known defendant from Illinois to plead guilty to his role in the breach. He entered his plea during a video conference before a federal judge in Washington.
Rukstales told the judge he did not mean to hit anyone with the chair that he tossed.
"I was very careful when I was with the chair to make sure there was nobody within any striking distance and did not purposely throw it at any individual at the time," Rukstales said.
Rukstales then pleaded guilty to parading, demonstrating or picketing inside a Capitol building, for which he faces up to six months behind bars. U.S. District Judge Carl J. Nichols set Rukstales' sentencing hearing for Nov. 12.
Rukstales has also agreed to pay $500 in restitution to help make up for the estimated $1.5 million in damage done to the Capitol building, according to his plea agreement.
Federal prosecutors have charged 12 additional Illinoisans in connection with the riot, which has led to what they say will likely be the largest criminal investigation in U.S. history. Rukstales was the first Illinoisan to be charged, and he apologized in a statement in January.
"In a moment of extremely poor judgment following the Jan. 6 rally in Washington, I followed hundreds of others through an open set of doors to the Capitol building to see what was taking place inside," he said.
"My decision to enter the Capitol was wrong, and I am deeply regretful to have done so," Rukstales said. "I condemn the violence and destruction that took place in Washington."
Rukstales also lost his job as CEO of the Schaumburg tech firm, Cogensia.
New details surfaced in a five-page "statement of offense" that accompanied Rukstales' guilty plea Tuesday. It said that after Vice President Mike Pence and members of the U.S. House and Senate evacuated their chambers at 2:20 p.m. on Jan. 6, rioters who breached the Capitol confronted police in the Capitol Crypt around 2:30 p.m.
Some of them threw chairs and hurled unknown substances at the officers, and officers could be seen on video surveillance retreating down a flight of stairs and escalators toward the Capitol Visitors Center, as chairs tumbled down the stairs behind them.
Police formed a defensive line, the document said. Then, moments later, Rukstales descended the stairwell, picked up a chair and threw it in the direction of the officers who had retreated, it said. The officers "were not in danger of being hit by the chair he threw," according to the document.
Rukstales continued down the corridor toward the officers, who ordered members of the crowd to leave, the document said. The officers then began arresting people who refused.
But "a melee ensued," the record said. And at one point, it said an officer brushed up against Rukstales from behind, and Rukstales' arm stretched out in the officer's direction.
The officer immediately turned around, brought Rukstales to the ground, and he and another officer dragged Rukstales behind the police line to be arrested, according to the document.
• This report was produced in partnership with the Chicago Sun-Times. For related coverage, check chicago.suntimes.com.