David Jakubonis, 44, has pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of assaulting a federal officer during a campaign event in western New York last year. The incident involved Republican gubernatorial candidate Lee Zeldin. U.S. Attorney for the Western District, Trini Ross, stated that Jakubonis could face up to a year in prison and a significant fine at his sentencing, scheduled for December.
During the campaign rally near Rochester in July 2022, Jakubonis approached then-U.S. Rep. Zeldin while carrying a keychain with two sharp points. Prosecutors allege that a struggle ensued, resulting in Jakubonis pulling Zeldin down before being subdued.
Jakubonis’ attorneys have claimed that their client, an Army veteran, was intoxicated and attempting to reach the microphone. In October, he was released from jail to an alcohol treatment program. Attorney John DeMarco described the misdemeanor plea as a “solid example of justice being reached.” DeMarco further stated that the outcome was positive for both Congressman Zeldin, as the crime victim, and Jakubonis, a disabled and decorated veteran who has shown determination in his recovery efforts. DeMarco also emphasized the importance of considering the special circumstances of veterans in such cases.