An organizer of the controversial Straight Pride Parade held in Boston in 2019 and a polarizing Natick Town Meeting member were both arrested Tuesday on charges stemming from the Jan. 6 attack on the US Capitol, which left at least five people dead, including a police officer.
FBI agents on Tuesday morning arrested Mark G. Sahady, 46, at his Malden home, and Suzanne Ianni, 59, at her home in Natick, on misdemeanor trespassing and disorderly conduct charges.
The two have claimed publicly to be the organizers of 11 buses that transported New Englanders to Washington, D.C.
Court filings included a photo of Ianni and Sahady, with about six others, on a bus en route to Washington before the riot. The group is all smiles as they give a thumbs-up. One of the men in the photo is wearing a shirt bearing the emblem of the Proud Boys, a militant far-right group.
Proud Boys are one of at least 15 hate groups functioning in Massachusetts, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center.
During court proceedings Tuesday, prosecutors accused the pair of participating in an “organized hoard whose actions collectively led” to the killing of a police officer and the deaths of four others.
Ianni and Sahady appeared via Zoom before US Magistrate Judge Jennifer Boal in separate hearings in US District Court. Ianni was released on her own recognizance; Sahady will remain jailed until a detention hearing scheduled for Thursday.
Numerous photos of Ianni and Sahady posted to social media, including one of Ianni cloaked in a pink and blue “Straight Pride” flag and another of her pumping her fist inside the Capitol, helped agents build their case.
Ianni, who is facing a petition calling for her ouster from the Natick Town Meeting, was ordered to stay away from the Massachusetts State House and any federal buildings, and cannot attend any rallies, demonstrations or protests without permission from probation.
Sahady, a US Army veteran, is listed as vice president of “Super Happy Fun America,” the group behind the Straight Pride Parade and other demonstrations in Boston. Federal prosecutors argued that “he presents a serious risk of obstruction of justice if released.”
Sahady’s lawyers were flabbergasted, saying their client had no criminal history. “It is beyond belief that there is a claim that he wants to obstruct justice or intimidate witnesses,” Sahady’s lawyer Rinaldo Del Gallo said.
“They probably have issues with him being a part of Super Happy Fun America,” Del Gallo said, or because “he’s a Trump supporter.” Del Gallo had earlier said in a statement that his client was not involved in any “plan, design, or collusion with others to break the law. Nor did he break the law himself.”
Prosecutors included a stream of tweets made by Sahady and Super Happy Fun America in an affidavit. On Dec. 20, Super Happy Fun America posted a tweet that said: “SHFA will be in DC once again on Jan. 6 to get wild.”
Sahady tweeted on Dec. 20: “It is important that millions of Americans show up [to D.C. on Jan. 6] to support the legitimate President, Donald Trump, and show Democrats what they will be facing if they continue to try and steal the Presidency.”
On Dec. 31: “We have 7 buses coming.”
On Jan. 4: “January 6 - Washington, DC - It Begins.”
Ianni provoked controversy in Natick after she was photographed inside the Capitol. Despite the petition calling for her removal, town officials say they have no legal mechanism at their disposal to kick her out of Town Meeting.
“The arrest does not change the circumstances,” said Jonathan Freedman, chair of the Natick Select Board. The board fully supports expression of First Amendment rights but not the Jan. 6 melee at the US Capitol, Freedman added.
“It was an attack on democracy itself, and we strongly condemn it,” he said.
Super Happy Fun America has filled all 5 of our buses and the 5 other buses fun by our affiliates are also full. We will see you all in DC! Let's get wild.— SuperHappyFunAmerica (@SuperHappyFunA) January 5, 2021
If convicted as charged, Ianni and Sahady each face a maximum sentence of not more than one year in federal prison and a $100,000 fine.
The Justice Department has “brought charges against more than 100 people and has investigations of many others underway,” Acting US Attorney General Jeffrey A. Rosen said in a statement.
The insurrection on Jan. 6 began after many in the mob had heard President Trump at a rally exhort his supporters to “fight like hell” and walk to the Capitol in an effort to disrupt the certification of Joe Biden’s victory in the presidential election, a process that was halted for hours amid the chaos but wrapped up early on Jan. 7.
Read the relevant court filings below: