WASHINGTON — A mother and son who aided in the theft of former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's laptop — whom online sleuths identified after the FBI mistakenly raided the home of another Donald Trump supporter in Alaska — were sentenced Wednesday.
Maryann Mooney-Rondon and her son, Rafael Rondon, were arrested in October 2021 after they were identified by online "Sedition Hunters" who have aided in hundreds of cases against Capitol rioters.
Before their identification, online sleuths had dubbed the pair “AirheadLady” and “AirheadBoy” because they emerged from the Capitol wearing stolen emergency escape hoods, which the duo subsequently admitted stealing.
U.S. District Judge Jia Cobb sentenced Rondon to 18 months of home incarceration and Mooney-Rondon to 12 months of home incarceration. She described the sentence as “jail but at home” and said they would be confined to home 24/7. Both will be on probation for five years.
Cobb said that it was a “difficult” case and that neither of the defendants were criminal masterminds. “I’m not suggesting that you two are stupid or idiots,” she said, but she said they engaged in “juvenile” behavior.
“I just think that they were acting very stupidly,” Cobb said. “No offense.” She said she was giving them a “significant break.”
Rafael Rondon was previously sentenced to 14 months of incarceration after he pleaded guilty in federal court in New York to possession of an unregistered firearm after the FBI found an unregistered sawed-off shotgun when it searched the Rondons' home.
Rafael Rondon admitted to the FBI that on Jan. 6, 2021, he helped a man who was trying to rip cords out of Pelosi's laptop, which she used for Zoom meetings.
"I assisted him a little bit," Rafael Rondon said, "and that was probably stupid of me." He later told the FBI that he wished he had taken a photo of a rioter on the Senate dais, because "that s--- was f---ing hilarious."
Before his sentencing, Rafael Rondon said that he would “never” engage in that type of behavior and that he was acting very immaturely. “I made a stupid mistake,” he said. “I realize that.”
Mooney-Rondon, who owns a medical billing company, admitted that she helped a man who took the laptop, giving him gloves so he would not leave fingerprints behind. The scene was captured in one of the many videos fellow rioters recorded on their smartphones. The man who took the laptop has not been arrested.
Mooney-Rondon said she had “a very bad lapse of judgment" on Jan. 6. "I’m a very — generally — measured, calculated person. I think things through. How the heck that happened, I really don’t have a clue," she said.
Ahead of her sentencing Wednesday, Mooney-Rondon called herself “a humbled woman” and asked the court for mercy.
“I was the adult in the room, and I failed,” she said. “I have brought embarrassment to my family.”
“If we had to do it all over, we would have just stayed home and watched from the safety of our living room,” she continued.
But when she finished her prepared statement and the judge asked her to explain what she was thinking when she decided to aid in the theft of Pelosi’s laptop, Mooney-Rondon pivoted, saying she thought Jan. 6 photos and videos had been “cherry-picked” and suggesting that the man who stole Pelosi’s laptop was part of a broader scheme and that he was working with others who were similarly dressed. She was she was “scared” and went along with the laptop theft because it was the “easiest thing to do.”
The government had sought 51 months in prison for Rafael Rondon and 46 months in prison for Maryann Mooney-Rondon.
Online sleuths identified the pair after the FBI raided the Alaska home of a woman it mistakenly thought was Mooney-Rondon. That woman, Marilyn Hueper, was on the grounds of the Capitol on Jan. 6 with her husband but does not appear to have entered the building. Neither of the Huepers has been charged.
A sleuth who helped identify the Rondons using facial recognition, in an interview for the book “Sedition Hunters: How January 6th Broke the Justice System,” called the FBI’s raid of the Alaska home “an embarrassing f---up” and said they initially “didn’t believe the FBI could mess up that badly.” The sleuths were able to identify the duo in about a half-hour, confirming the facial recognition hit with the help of Mooney-Rondon’s Facebook page, which featured images of her wearing the same items of jewelry she wore to the Capitol on Jan. 6.