Illinois woman, recent U.S. citizen arrested by FBI for allegedly storming US Capitol on January 6

ByChuck Goudie and Barb Markoff, Christine Tressel and Tom Jones WLS logo
Thursday, September 14, 2023
IL resident, recent US citizen arrested on Jan. 6 charges
EMBED <>More Videos

Nhi Ngoc Mai Le was arrested by Chicago FBI agents last Friday after the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Columbia filed four misdemeanor charges against her,

CHICAGO (WLS) -- An Illinois woman who says she recently became a U.S. citizen has been arrested for allegedly storming the Capitol on January 6, the ABC 7 I-Team has learned.

Nhi Ngoc Mai Le was arrested by Chicago FBI agents last Friday after the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Columbia filed four misdemeanor charges against her, including knowingly entering a restricted building without lawful authority, and disorderly and disruptive conduct.

Le is the 41st person from Illinois charged in connection with the capitol breach and effort to stop the certification of the 2020 Presidential Election.

As Capitol security was overrun by the mob of rioters that infamous day, FBI agents allege Le was in the thick of it, according to Capitol security footage and postings by Le herself on social media.

Court filings obtained by the I-Team reveal Le's path to the Capitol started when she traveled from Chicago to Atlanta, Georgia, on Jan. 4, 2021, to attend a rally for former President Donald Trump.

That same day, agents obtained a post from Le on her personal Facebook page, which according to authorities, may shed light on her motivation for traveling to the Capitol days later.

In the post, Le equates the stolen election myth to people in recent years taking to the streets of Saigon, Vietnam, protesting the "special zone [act]... protect[ing] the Hoang Sa Truong Sa."

"The same thing is happening in the United States of America, my second home and paradise," Le posted in Vietnamese, which was translated to English in the court filing. "A free country is under attack by underground forces. Now I'm only contributing a small part, doing the least I can to save America."

"Fight to the end- free or die," Le allegedly posted. "As much as you love the country, you hate the communists. See you all in Washington, D.C. 01/06."

Agents said Le then traveled to Washington, D.C. to attend the "Stop the Steal" rally, where security footage and social media posts show her breaching the Capitol's Parliamentarian Door and entering Senate offices.

Copies of group chat records obtained by agents show Le "told her friends that she climbed a wall to reach the Capitol building, that she was pepper-sprayed, and that another individual was 'shot dead' while she was inside the building," according to the FBI's Statement of Facts.

Agents also allege Le posted short videos of herself outside and inside of the Capitol, including next to the damaged Parliamentarian Door before it was breached and inside the Brumidi Corridor.

Days after the Capitol siege, an anonymous user reported Le's Facebook postings to the FBI, leading agents to interview her in April 2021.

Agents said Le initially acknowledged attending the rally but "denied entering the U.S. Capitol building on that day," according to the FBI's Statement of Facts in the case.

After agents uncovered videos and photos of Le at and inside the Capitol building, the court filing states they returned to her residence for a second interview in February 2022.

This time, agents said Le admitted to entering the Capitol.

Reached by phone on Wednesday, Le told the I-Team she knew nothing of the criminal case against her, despite having been arrested last Friday.

A federal public defender assigned to Le also did not respond to the I-Team's emailed request for comment.

State records show Le operates an Aurora nail salon. An employee who answered the phone at the salon said Le wasn't at work on Wednesday.

Even after Jan. 6, and following FBI questioning, Lee became a U.S. citizen, according to a post on her personal Facebook page.

The post, dated Dec. 3, 2021, shows Le standing next to a federal judge in what appears to be a naturalization ceremony, though the location of the ceremony was not disclosed.

In the comments, Le's followers congratulated her, with Le replying how important the naturalization process is and the pride she felt after becoming an American citizen.

Over the phone, Le did not respond to the I-Team's questions about her recent naturalization.

ABC7 Chief Legal Analyst Gil Soffer tells the I-Team in theory, Le's citizenship could be impacted by the criminal case, but it doesn't happen very often.

"When she was naturalized, she had to assert or attest to the fact that she had good moral character, and that she has an attachment to the Constitution that you'd be faithful to the Constitution," Soffer said. "The government could seek to revoke her naturalization on the theory that she lied about those qualifications."

But, Soffer acknowledged, "This is not the kind of case that screams out for revocation of naturalization."

According to the Department of Justice, Le is among the more than 1,146 defendants charged in relation to the Capitol riot.

Le's first court appearance by video is scheduled for Sept. 19 before Magistrate Judge Robin Meriweather of the District of Columbia.