Neo-Nazi member who stole helmet 'war trophy' on Jan. 6 pleads guilty

Richard Zachary Ackerman, 22, pleaded guilty Thursday to charges stemming from the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on Congress. Photo courtesy of U.S. Justice Department
1 of 2 | Richard Zachary Ackerman, 22, pleaded guilty Thursday to charges stemming from the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on Congress. Photo courtesy of U.S. Justice Department

April 11 (UPI) -- A New Hampshire man linked by federal authorities to a neo-Nazi group admitted Thursday to participating in the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection during which he stole a police riot helmet he had described in boast as a "war trophy."

Richard Zachary Ackerman, 22, of Salem, N.H., pleaded guilty Thursday to two charges of civil disorder and theft of government property, according to court documents filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.


Ackerman was arrested in June following a lengthy investigation that began two days after the insurrection attempt with the FBI receiving an online tip that included a photo of a U.S. Capitol Police helmet defaced with a sticker of the New England 131 neo-Nazi group.

According to the Jewish nonprofit Anti-Defamation League, NSC-131, also known as the Nationalist Social Club, is based in New England and its members consider themselves at war with "a hostile, Jewish-controlled system that is deliberately plotting the extinction of the White race."


The statement of facts in the case states a confidential informant within the NSC-131 told the FBI sometime in 2021 that a person by the name Zach Parker was a member who had rioted on the Capitol on Jan. 6 and had found a U.S. Capitol police helmet on the ground during the siege. Court documents state that the informant had knowledge that Ackerman was still in possession of the stolen government property.

In August of that year, Ackerman was stopped by U.S. border agents at Boston Logan International Airport on his return from a trip to Germany. Prosecutors said in court documents that he admitted to the border agents that he had traveled from New Hampshire to Washington, D.C., on Jan. 6 and that he had found a police helmet on the ground, though he denied taking it.

A search of his phone at the airport uncovered text conversations from that day of the attack in which he informed people of his intent to participate in the riots, that he was pepper sprayed during the chaos, and that he "stole a SWAT Team Officers helmet."

"Not smart Zach," the person he was communicating with said.

"It's a war trophy," he replied.


The person had earlier in the day instructed Ackerman to try to avoid arrest.

"You won't be able to be a Marine," the person said. "Go home, it's not worth it!"

To a second individual, Ackerman boasted of having "stormed" the Capitol" and "grabbed a helmet off of the SWAT team."

The agents also secured images off the phone showing Ackerman wearing the Capitol Police helmet.

On June 8, 2022, the FBI obtained a search warrant for his Salem home where he lived with his father, who called Ackerman who wasn't home when the agents arrived, informing his son the authorities were looking for stolen government property.

The younger Ackerman told his father that the helmet was hidden in the chute of the basement fireplace, according to court documents, which is where the FBI agents located it.

Videos and images taken during the riot capture show Ackerman wearing a black leather jacket and having donned the riot helmet on occasion.

Prosecutors had accused Ackerman of storming the Capitol and having thrown an empty water bottle at officers protecting the building.

He had initially been charged with five offenses.

As of Saturday, more than 1,387 people across the country have been charged in connection to the attack, according to a statement from the Justice Department.


Nearly 500 of the defendants face offenses relating to assaulting police, including 129 who have been charged with using a deadly or dangerous weapon or causing serious bodily injury to an office.

Some 140 police officers were assaulted that day.

Of those charged, 791 have pleaded guilty and 859 have been sentenced.

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