Three GOP representatives say Sharpsville man exemplifies 'persecution' of Capitol riot suspects
Three Republican members of Congress are holding up a Mercer County man as an example of Capitol Riot suspects who they say are being persecuted by the Justice Department.
Geri Perna spoke on Thursday in Washington D.C. on behalf of her nephew Matt Perna who committed suicide on February 25th, just over a month before he was scheduled to be sentenced in federal court on charges of witness tampering, disorderly conduct, and two counts of entering a restricted building or grounds.
The Sharpsville man and Stephen Ayres of Champion, Ohio were each indicted on the same charges after government investigators say the two attempted to obstruct members of congress as they were certifying President Joe Biden's election and destroyed federal property in the process.
Perna’s aunt spoke alongside Representative Louie Gohmert of Texas who organized the news conference and shared a video of the event on social media.
Also speaking at the press conference were Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia and Andy Biggs of Arizona.
In a prepared statement, Geri Perna said that her nephew didn’t break through barriers, but walked into the Capitol, staying within a roped-off area, while police officers stood to the side
“He harmed no one. He broke nothing. He stole nothing. He entered the Capitol almost 45 minutes after Congress had adjourned and evacuated. Yet he was charged with obstruction of Congress, a felony that drastically escalated his situation's seriousness,” said Geri Perna who claimed that her nephew pleaded guilty because worry, anxiety, and stress had worn him down.
“He suffered from constant nightmares and had begun throwing up blood. He was no longer comfortable leaving his home,” according to Perna’s aunt. “So, Matt took the only way out he knew. He hung himself in his garage. The hatred that has been fueled by many members of our government, including Congress, our justice department, and even our president, has brought our country to the point of no return”
"He was persecuted so harshly by our own FBI, our own Department of Justice, and the judge in his case, and the prosecutors, that he gave up hope and committed suicide,” said Rep. Taylor Greene. "Shame on every single judge that is using their courtroom to persecute pretrial January 6 defendants. At this time the Justice Department is still withholding hundreds of thousands of FBI records from defense attorneys. They’re not allowing them to have the records to prepare their cases.”
"This is a very dangerous policy that this Department of Justice, that this administration is pursuing in pursuing vengefulness. Republics don't last much longer when they get like this,” said Rep Gohmert.
Of the more than 700 people charged in connection with the Capitol riot, seven were from the Valley. In addition to Perna, one other local suspect has pleaded guilty to charges. The remaining five are awaiting trial.