United Kingdom

Capitol rioter, 22, accused of stealing Nancy Pelosi's laptop claims ex made 'overblown' statement

Williams was arrested on Monday and new theft charges were added on Tuesday

Riley Williams, the woman accused of stealing Nancy Pelosi's laptop during the Capitol riots so she could sell it to the Russian secret service, is a victim of a vengeful ex-boyfriend, her lawyer claims.

And the ex's allegations are 'overblown,' public defender Lori Ulrich said Thursday outside federal court in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

Ulrich was talking after a judge granted Williams bail. The 22-year-old must confine herself to her mother's ground floor Harrisburg apartment, leaving only for work, church, and doctors' and court appointments.

Williams was seen in video of the January 6 melee directing other rioters to go upstairs to Pelosi's office. There she is alleged to have taken the House Speaker's computer.

In Federal Court Thursday, Williams answered questions in a confident, firm voice as her case was transferred to a court in Washington, D.C.

Rail thin and wearing a tan, short-sleeved jump suit, gray socks and cheap plastic sandals, her feet remained shackled throughout the 50-minute hearing, although her handcuffs were removed. Her unwashed brunette hair tumbled halfway down her back and a large tattoo of a heart was visible on her right bicep.

Federal prosecutors say the former boyfriend had told the FBI that she had stolen the computer and intended to send it to a friend in Russia who would sell it to the SVR, the country's secret service. The plan is said to have fallen through.

But Ulrich told magistrate judge Martin Carlson the story had come from a 'former abusive boyfriend who has threatened Ms Williams in a number of ways.'

'He has stalked and harassed her and she had to change her phone number at the suggestion of a police officer,' Ulrich said. 

Riley Williams, the woman accused of stealing Nancy Pelosi's laptop during the Capitol riots so she could sell it to the Russian secret service, is a victim of a vengeful ex-boyfriend, her lawyer claims

Rail thin and wearing a tan, short-sleeved jump suit, gray socks and cheap plastic sandals, her feet remained shackled throughout the 50-minute hearing, although her handcuffs were removed. Her unwashed brunette hair tumbled halfway down her back and a large tattoo of a heart was visible on her right bicep

Williams was seen in video of the January 6 melee directing other rioters to go upstairs to Pelosi's office. There she is alleged to have taken the House Speaker's computer 

Federal prosecutors say the former boyfriend had told the FBI that she had stolen the computer and intended to send it to a friend in Russia who would sell it to the SVR, the country's secret service. The plan is said to have fallen through 

DailyMail.com has obtained the restraining order that Williams took out on Thursday last week. It names Michael Prodanov of Trenton, New Jersey, saying he is 'current or former sexual or intimate partner.'

In the order, Williams says Prodanov has shared naked pictures of her with her family and had threatened to rape her. She said he turned up at her mother's apartment on the Monday following the Capitol riot.

'He has been showing up without permission looking for me,' Williams wrote. 'The police have told him not to go to my residence and he still does.

'He has been stalking and threatening me. He told me if I get a PFA (Protection from Abuse) things will get worst (sic). He insinuated that he would hurt and even rape me.'

Williams said Prodanov would call her at work more than 100 times a day. 'He has showed up at my place of employment and tried to get me terminated,' she said.

'He has received some of my confidential medical information, which I do not know how. He put me in a database for promotions I never signed up for. He has had his friends come stalk me as well. He has contacted the FBI and told them I had access to Nancy Pelosi's laptop and sold it to the Russians.

'He has shared pictures of me naked with my mother, brother, brother's wife and cousins. This is very embarrassing,' she added.

'I only dated this individual for approximately 3 months and right from the start of this relationship, it has been an abusive relationship.

'He has hit me. He violently grabs my head and pushes it. He has punched me in the head and then pretends he did nothing.

'This is very concerning and I want it to stop. I am afraid of him. As I go to sleep at night I am so stressed out and scared he is going to hurt me.'

Williams is asking the court to order Prodanov to stay 100 yards away from her, her home and workplace and not post remarks or pictures on social media.

Prodanov, 21, told DailyMail.com he can prove every one of Williams’s accusations against him, including the most serious ones of threatening rape, showing naked pictures and violence, are false.

‘I have evidence against all of it,’ he said. ‘And I plan to produce it in court. I don’t want to make my case in the media, I want to make it in court.’

But Ulrich told magistrate judge Martin Carlson the story had come from a 'former abusive boyfriend who has threatened Ms Williams in a number of ways.' 'He has stalked and harassed her and she had to change her phone number at the suggestion of a police officer,' Ulrich said 

Outside court, Rickey Williams (pictured), 54, told DailMail.com he had been instructed not to discuss his daughter's case. Wendy, 52, confirmed to the British ITV News network that the woman in the video was her care worker daughter, who she called 'very empathetic and loving'

Prosecutors had alleged Williams had changed her phone number — along with deleting her Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Reddit, Telegram and Parler accounts — in a bid to avoid capture. Ulrich said she actually handed herself in to authorities. 'It was not her intention to flee but to protect herself from an abusive boyfriend,' the defender said.

Ulrich appeared to put some of the blame for Wlliams's actions on January 6 on former President Donald Trump, after he had urged the crowd to 'walk down to the Capitol' to protest what he saw as a capitulation by then-Vice President Mike Pence, who had told him he could not challenge the Electoral College results. 'It's regrettable that Ms Williams took the president at his word and went inside the Capitol,' she said.

Outside court, Ulrich said Williams has taken out a temporary restraining order against the ex. She refused to be drawn as to whether Trump was to blame for the riot, but said the allegation about what Williams intended to do with the stolen computer 'needs further investigation.'

Williams faces two felony and two misdemeanor charges that could potentially land her in jail for more than 30 years with fines of more than $600,000 for her part in the riot.

In videos taken inside the Capitol Building she is seen wearing a long brown coat over a green T-shirt with an alt-right message on it. She has a zebra print bag slung over her shoulder. She is pictured directing other rioters, even pushing some of them, to go upstairs toward Pelosi's office.

Williams's mother Wendy told Harrisburg police on January 11 that her daughter had suddenly packed a bag a few days after the riots and left the apartment where they both live. Williams told her mother she would be gone for a couple of weeks.

That was after she had allegedly posted an admission that she had taken items from the Speaker's office. 'I took Nancy Polesis [sic] hard drives. I don't care. Kill me,' she wrote online. She also wrote that she took her 'gravel hammwrd tbing,' believed to be a reference to the congresswoman's ceremonial gavel.

'Like theure [sic] gonna arrest me,' she allegedly posted, adding hours later: 'They'll never take me alive.'

Her father, Rickey Williams, who lives in nearby Camp Hill, Pennsylvania, admitted to the FBI that he had driven his daughter to hear Donald Trump speak on January 6, but once there they were in Washington, they split up as she wanted to meet friends she knew would be there. He said they later met up outside the Capitol and he drove her back to Harrisburg.

Williams faces two felony and two misdemeanor charges that could potentially land her in jail for more than 30 years with fines of more than $600,000 for her part in the riot. An image shared by ITV shows Williams posing with a rifle and a skull emblazoned face mask

Before being detained, Williams had reportedly fled the Harrisburg apartment she shared with her mother (left), frantically packing a bag and telling her she'd return 'in a few weeks'

Investigators with the FBI said that Williams was clearly identifiable at the riots on January 6

Outside court, Rickey Williams, 54, told DailMail.com he had been instructed not to discuss his daughter's case.

Wendy, 52, confirmed to the British ITV News network that the woman in the video was her care worker daughter, who she called 'very empathetic and loving.'

She said in the past few months Riley had suddenly taken an interest in 'Trump's politics and far right message boards.'

'She goes to rallies, Wendy Williams said. 'It's all about wanting America to get the correct information.'

Judge Carlson set a court date for Williams in Washington for Monday next week. She will appear virtually.

He gave Williams a stern reminder that she was being given bail and a 'vigorous' public defender because of the United States Constitution.

'One of the fundamental pillars of that Constitution is the peaceful transfer of power,' Carlson, an Obama appointee, said.

'The conduct that allegedly took place on January 6 came as Congress was endeavoring to fulfill its obligation to certify the will of the people and the Electoral College.'

He said the scenes inside the Capitol and Williams's part in them were 'the antithesis of constitutional values.'

'It was a riot, a mob that sought to replace constitutional norms with the howling of a crowd.

'The mob failed and the Constitution prevailed as Congress stepped over the wreckage of its Capitol, met and confirmed under the Vice President of the United States, the vote of the Electoral College, setting the stage for the latest peaceful transfer of power.' 

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