- Capitol rioter Timothy Hale-Cusanelli was “well-known” to his coworkers as a white supremacist.
- An Insider investigation reveals a history of anti-Semitism and intimidating Jewish people.
- The investigation also finds that the Hitler fanatic held a secret-level security clearance despite multiple arrests.
- See more stories on Insider’s business page.
Timothy Hale-Cusanelli liked to impersonate Adolf Hitler. He would strut around his workplace sporting a Hitler mustache, spouting vicious anti-Semitism while his intimidated colleagues did not dare to confront him.
An Insider investigation can reveal what is shocking is that Hale-Cusanelli, a Navy contractor, held a secret-level security clearance at the Naval Weapons Station Earle and had received numerous honors for his service in the Army Reserves.
Hale-Cusanelli also has a history of arrests and antagonizing his local Jewish community, the investigation finds.
The insurrectionist’s disturbing world has only now come to light because he faces several criminal counts, including obstructing a law enforcement officer and civil disorder, relating to his role in the insurrection of January 6.
‘The makeshift weapon was inscribed with …. a drawing of a confederate flag’
Even the most cursory of background checks by the Navy or the Army would have revealed that Hale-Cusanelli began dabbling with white supremacist philosophy at least a decade ago.
Hale-Cusanelli lives in Colts Neck, New Jersey. He was arrested, nearby, in August 2010 on charges of unlawful possession of a weapon and criminal mischief, Howell Municipal Court records show.
According to a March court filing, the incident involved Hale-Cusanelli and a friend using a “potato” gun to shoot frozen corn at houses. The crude weapon used was inscribed with the words “WHITE IS RIGHT” and a drawing of a confederate flag, the documents said.
Hale-Cusanelli was found guilty of criminal mischief, paid a $180 fine, and the other charges were dismissed. But this was the first of many brushes with the law and early indicators of far-right views.
Run-ins with the police
Since his first arrest in 2010, Hale-Cusanelli has been charged over 30 times, according to court records.
Prior to the January 6 siege of the Capitol, court records show a string of minor infractions and some more serious charges – but no felonies.
In 2011, Hale-Cusanelli was arrested for stabbing another man in the abdomen, Asbury Park Press reported.
He was accused of an aggravated assault attempt, causing bodily injury with a deadly weapon, possession of a weapon for unlawful purposes, unlawful possession of weapons, and simple assault, Freehold Municipal Court records show.
“There was an altercation between his mother and her then-boyfriend who became violent when intoxicated,” Hale-Cusanell’s attorney wrote in the defendant’s motion for modification of bond. “Based upon information and belief, Mr. Hale-Cusanelli intervened to protect his mother and was subsequently arrested.”
The case was moved to the state Superior Court but records do not show that it resulted in a conviction.
A year later, Hale-Cusanelli was charged with breach of peace, found guilty, and fined $189, according to Howell Municipal Court records.
Hale-Cusanelli was arrested again in 2013 following an investigation into scrap metal theft, Freehold Patch reported in 2013. Most of the charges were dismissed but he was found guilty of loitering and failure to have his car inspected, Manalapan Municipal Court records show.
Hale-Cusanelli threatened Jews. He said he was going to show up at their homes on the Sabbath.
Between 2013 and 2020, Hale-Cusanelli added Jew-baiting to his resume of petty crime and delinquency.
He was found guilty and fined for littering on state property in 2014, according to Freehold Township Municipal Court records. He also pleaded guilty to driving an unregistered motor vehicle a year later, according to Mansfield Township Municipal Court records.
But a more serious charge against him emerged in early 2020. Hale-Cusanelli was reported to the police on two occasions for engaging in anti-Semitic harassment.
Members of New Jersey’s Jewish community had already felt the force of his Jew-hatred.
“Those who followed anti-Semitism in the area knew about Hale-Cusanelli,” a New Jersey rabbi, who wished to remain anonymous, told Insider.
The insurrectionist was a member of the ‘Rise Up Ocean County’ Facebook page – a controversial page rampant with anti-Semitism that New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy eventually condemned.
In 2019, Murphy’s administration sent a letter to Facebook addressing concerns with “racist and anti-Semitic statements on the page, including an explicit goal of preventing Orthodox Jews from moving to Ocean County.”
Facebook eventually removed it.
During the height of its popularity, Hale-Cusanelli was ominously vocal on the ‘Rise Up Ocean County’ page.
The original group’s moderator, Richard Ciullo, told Insider that Hale-Cusanelli had made multiple “incendiary” comments on the page and was eventually banned. Insider has seen screenshots confirming Hale-Cusanelli’s involvement.
In February 2020, the insurrectionist got into an online argument with Jewish commenters.
“Hale-Cusanelli was making veiled threats, saying that he was going to show up to people’s houses on the Sabbath,” the New Jersey rabbi said.
One of the people impacted by the Facebook feud reported Hale-Cusanelli to the police for anti-Semitic harassment on February 29, 2020.
“Hale-Cusanelli made vague threats stating, ‘I’m not scared of people knowing my face, I’m happy to be a lightning rod. Make me famous as your own risk,'” a police report seen by Insider said. Hale-Cusanelli also included references to the individual’s address, it said.
A week later, another person reported Hale-Cusanelli for anti-Semitic harassment and cyberharassment.
Toms River Police Department confirmed both of these incidents.
County prosecutors were also aware of Hale-Cusanelli’s provocative anti-Semitic behavior. He was on their “radar,” a press officer at the Office of the Ocean County Prosecutor told Insider.
A social media troll
Hale-Cusanelli deleted his Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter accounts in an attempt to “obstruct or destroy evidence” before his arrest, federal prosecutors said.
Insider, however, has seen verified screenshots of Hale-Cusanelli’s now-deleted Twitter posts. In one post, the insurrectionist refers to Jews as “locusts.” In another, he targeted New Jersey’s Orthodox Jewish community.
He used his Twitter account to promote his YouTube show, “Based Hermes,” which he also deleted after the Capitol riots.
However, special agents from the Naval Criminal Investigative Service were able to recover content relating to the show. One YouTube teaser, included in a court filing, showed the insurrectionist falsely claiming that Jewish people were behind 9/11.
Hale-Cusanelli’s lawyer, Jonathan Zucker, argued in the defendant’s pretrial release that the YouTube channel was “controversial” but was primarily about New Jersey politics. Prosecutors refute this.
Investigators also uncovered hundreds of anti-Black and anti-Semitic memes from his cellphone, the court filings show.
A 2019 photo of Hale-Cusanelli displaying the “OK” hand gesture – a hate symbol associated with the far-right and white supremacy – was retrieved too.
Several images of the young man sporting a Hitler mustache and haircut were also found.
Hale-Cusanelli received several honors for his service in the Army Reserves
These discoveries did not surprise Hale-Cusanelli’s co-workers at NWS Earle Security Forces.
Many who worked with him at the Naval base were aware of his anti-Semitic views, Insider previously reported.
One Navy Petty Officer said that it was “well-known” that Hale-Cusanelli did not like minorities or Jews. A Navy Seaman recalled an incident where he said that if he were a Nazi, he would “kill all the Jews and eat them for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.”
An HBC contractor said that spoke about his “dislike of Jews every day” and that people were afraid to report him because he was “crazy.”
Despite a history of arrests and racist behavior, Hale-Cusanelli received several honors for his Army Reserves service.
He joined in May 2009 and is still serving in the 174th Infantry Brigade out of Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst in New Jersey, an Army spokesperson said.
He has never been deployed but has received four Army awards; an Army Achievement Medal, an Army Reserve Components Achievement Medal, a National Defense Service Medal, and the Army Service Ribbon.
One honor bestowed upon him, the Army Reserve Components Achievement Medal, is awarded for meritorious service. The criteria for receiving it are “exemplary behavior, efficiency, and fidelity,” according to the Army’s website.
Insider, recognizing the discrepancy between Hale-Cusanelli’s problematic history and the criteria of this medal, asked the Army Reserves whether they were aware of his past behaviors.
“Sgt. Hale-Cusanelli’s leadership was not aware of his prior involvement with law enforcement, to include run-ins, arrests, or convictions, or of the videos posted on social media,” Simon B. Flake, the Army Reserve’s media chief, said.
Yet, despite the insurrectionist’s arrest for his involvement in the Capitol riots, he has not yet been discharged by the Army Reserves.
Flake told Insider: “The U.S. Army Reserve takes all allegations of Soldier or Army civilian involvement in extremist groups seriously and will address this issue in accordance with Army regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice to ensure due process. Extremist ideologies and activities directly oppose our values and beliefs and those who subscribe to extremism have no place in our ranks.”
‘He was granted a secret-level security clearance’
Similarly, the Navy had a blind spot when it came to Hale-Cusanelli and employed him as a security contractor at Naval Weapons Station Earle. His open adoration for Hitler, his vocal racism and anti-Semitism, were no barrier to advancement, and he was granted a secret-level security clearance.
A secret-level security clearance allows individuals access to information which if disclosed without authorization could reasonably be expected to “cause serious damage to the national security,” according to the Code of Federal Regulations.
To receive this level of security clearance requires a background check and the provision of vast quantities of personal information. A history or pattern of criminality might raise concerns about granting security clearance but it is not an automatic disqualifier, according to Military.com.
Showing an “enthusiasm for another Civil War,” as federal prosecutors suggest the evidence indicates of Hale-Cusanelli, would almost certainly disqualify an individual from gaining clearance.
Since his arrest, Hale-Cusanelli has been “barred” from the naval base, according to federal prosecutors.
Insider contacted the Navy Office of Information to ask about Hale-Cusanelli’s secret-level security clearance in light of former arrests. The office confirmed receipt of the request for comment but did not provide one.
Extremism within US military ranks
Prior to Hale-Cusanelli’s arrest for his involvement in the Capitol riots, there were clues that he held a white-supremacist ideology and might later participate in a violent crime. These signs, however, were not picked up on by military officials.
Hale-Cusanelli was one of many active-duty military members involved in the deadly siege of the Capitol. Almost one in five rioters were active-duty members of veterans, Insider previously reported.
The astonishing statistic indicates a culture of extremism within the armed forces and, potentially, an inability to spot radicalization signs early on.
Hale-Cusanelli’s story is just one of many examples of white supremacy within the ranks of the US military going undetected. This, as the US witnessed on January 6, can have dire consequences.