The Rufini family’s peaceful life was shattered when a late-night FBI operation saw them hauled at gunpoint from their home and detained in a van while agents combed their house for evidence of what was presumed to be a potential violent plot by their 15-year-old son, who was a volunteer firefighter and an altar boy, American Greatness reported.
Jeremiah Rufini, the father, detailed their plight in a now-unavailable GiveSendGo fundraising page, illustrating the profound impact of this investigation on their family life and finances.
According to the unpublished fundraising page, the Rufinis had been grappling with unexpected legal fees resulting from an “aggressive investigation” into their son, who was convicted on a minor misdemeanor and placed on juvenile probation for breach of peace.
“Our family has unexpectedly incurred very substantial (for us) legal expenses as the result of an aggressive investigation against our fifteen year-old son for posting offensive memes in a private group chat.
“While the investigation resulted in juvenile probation and a minor misdemeanor conviction for breach of peace, our home was raided by the FBI and we were forced to come up with thousands of dollars in non-refundable bail money and legal fees. We are a working class family that lives paycheck-to-paycheck and bankruptcy is a near certainty. It will be a struggle to keep our home without help.”
According to Rufini, the family’s challenges began when their home-schooled son was left to care for his cancer-stricken grandfather. During this period, the boy, lacking a cell phone or unrestricted internet access until then, was given a phone for communication purposes.
The boy’s interest in history and theology led him to online group chats, and he was “recruited” into chat groups “targeting teenage traditionalist Catholics with extreme political content.”
Unknown to the Rufinis, these group chats were under close surveillance by the FBI, part of a broader investigation into Traditional Catholics triggered by the events of January 6th.
“None of our children, including my son, had been raised with cell phones or unrestricted internet access. It became necessary for him to have a phone so we could communicate while he was alone at my father’s house caring for my grandmother, and so we reluctantly allowed him to have a cell phone. He spent a lot of time alone with nothing to do but wait and think and the cell phone became a welcome distraction.
“His interests in history and theology led him down a rabbit hole where he was recruited into group chats targeting teenage traditionalist Catholics with extreme political content. We later learned that these chats were being closely monitored, and possibly operated by, FBI agents as part of an effort to investigate Traditional Catholics that was downstream of a broader domestic investigation spurred by the events of January 6th.”
As Gateway Pundit reported in April, Chris Wray’s FBI is now infiltrating Catholic parishes. The FBI agents are engaging in outreach to Catholic leaders to spy on Americans practicing their Christian faith.
Chris Wray’s FBI sent out a memo warning agents of the dangerous ‘radical traditionalist Catholic ideology’ that was gaining popularity in the country. The memo was posted at UncoverDC.com by former FBI special agent Kyle Seraphin.
#BREAKING: We now know the FBI, relying on information derived from at least one employee, sought to use local religious organizations as “new avenues for tripwire and source development.” pic.twitter.com/97veIGtvq4
— Weaponization Committee (@Weaponization) April 10, 2023
According to Rufini, his son’s online interactions spiraled into a scenario where the FBI suspected him of preparing for a violent act – a suspicion that ultimately yielded no evidence.
This suspected preparation allegedly included being encouraged by chat group members to photograph firearms legally owned by a family member and adopt other provocative behaviors.
When the teenager ceased his social media activity abruptly, the FBI interpreted this as a sign of a move towards executing a violent plot.
“My son is very stoic so we had no idea any of this was occurring. He dutifully assisted my father during the day and went home in the evening while I took over at my father’s house. Unbeknownst to us, he was being drawn deeper and deeper into these chat groups and goaded into doing things like take pictures of himself in public wearing ski masks and to print out memes and leave them on picnic tables.
“They would ask him if he had access to guns (he would go target shooting under the supervision of my brother, who lived in an in-law apartment at our home and owned firearms) and encourage him to sneak photographs of the guns and post them. Ironically, our legal troubles began when he had an attack of conscience and abruptly deleted all of his chat apps. He later told us that he felt using social media was a coping mechanism and it had been affecting his mood and ability to sleep.
“The FBI panicked and made the assumption that he must have connected to a terror cell in real life and “gone dark” ahead of some potential violent act.
“There was no such plan and they had no evidence of one, but it didn’t stop them from spending two weeks fabricating a legal pretense for a search warrant of our home.”
As described by his father, aggressive tactics deployed by the FBI escalated to a harrowing night in which the family was extracted from their home at gunpoint, handcuffed, and locked in a van. Despite extensive searches and interrogations, no evidence supporting the feared violent conspiracy surfaced.
However, this operation, based on unproven suspicions, resulted in the confiscation of firearms and the son’s hospitalization under mental health pretenses. Given his active and charitable lifestyle, Jeremiah laments the disproportionate response to his son’s misjudgment.
At 10:00pm on a Sunday evening we were dragged out of our home at gunpoint, handcuffed and locked in a van while they searched our home for evidence of this imagined plot. Having found no such evidence, they seized my brother’s firearms and had my son hospitalized on mental health pretenses.
We didn’t learn until that night the scope of the investigation or the amount of time and resources expended on my son. We know him to be a kind and conscientious boy who is active in his community and church. He is a volunteer firefighter and altar boy. He said some things we aren’t very happy with and showed a severe lack of judgement in his associations but the response seemed very disproportionate.
It soon became clear that there was no grand conspiracy or imminent danger, and the FBI’s interest waned. However, the family remained mired in the aftermath. A Department of Children and Families (DCF) investigation ensued, leading to months of daily appointments. The state brought criminal charges against the son, which were eventually dropped, but not before a prolonged and costly legal battle.
“When his charges were disposed of, my brother and I were charged for allowing my son to target shoot based on the assumption that we must have somehow known that he was involved in political extremism online. It seems unlikely to amount to much but has cost us over $20,000 we don’t have so far.
“I have been reluctant to seek help but the threat of losing our home has become very real. I work with the homeless for a faith-based non-profit organization, and my brother manages a family owned butcher shop. My wife stays at home and home schools our younger children while managing a small homestead. We are paying legal bills by not paying other bills.
“Our credit is extended as far as it can go so our kids can have Christmas. The mortgage is a few weeks behind and we have zero breathing room for any unexpected expenses at this point. Our son is racked with guilt and believes himself to be at fault for our dire financial straits. While it is very humbling for me as someone who has always provided for others to ask for help, I know it is sometimes necessary and for us that time has come.”
The Rufini family had already raised over $ 29,872 after setting a goal of $22,000 before it went unpublished.
The family’s turn to the community for support, however, has been met with skepticism, fueled by previous convictions of the father, Jeremiah Rufini.
Rod Dreher published excerpts from Jeremiah’s arrest warrant on his Substack to raise questions about the family’s plea. The arrest warrant details reveal an accusation against Jeremiah for enabling firearm access to his son.
“I’m going to make public most of the arrest warrant for the kid’s father, [Jeremiah] Rufini, which is not under seal. The FBI and the Connecticut State Police charged the father, a convicted felon, with having firearms in the house where his son could get to them. That seems like an aggressive move, and I don’t necessarily endorse it. I am posting these details below, though, because they detail what the boy (unnamed) is accused of having done,” Dreher wrote.
According to page 3 of the 5-page affidavit, “FBI New Haven determined that Juvenile #1 also resides at the above address with Jeremiah Michael Rufini, W/ M DoB: 03/08/81. Jeremiah Rufini has convictions in the State of Connecticut for multiple felonies including Kidnapping, Robbery and Burglary. That based on Jeremiah Rufini’s felony convictions, he is prohibited from possessing firearms or ammunition. Jeremiah was assessed by the FBI to be the father of Juvenile #1. Also determined to live at the residence with Juvenile #1 and Jeremiah is another possible relative, Jesse Rufini W/M DoB: 09/05/82. Jesse has no criminal history and is a licensed Connecticut Pistol Permit holder. A review of Jesse’s firearms registry shows that he has two (2) registered long guns, as well as six (6) recent firearms purchases including additional long guns and an “other” firearm. Jesse Rufini was assessed by the FBI to be the uncle of Juvenile #1.”
Below are the excerpts from the arrest warrant obtained by Dreher:
According to Catholic Vote, this situation is not an isolated incident. There have been previous instances where the FBI has been accused of “grooming” a teenage boy to engage in radical activities, only to arrest him later.
In June, 18-year-old Mateo Ventura was arrested “on charges he allegedly ran a gift-card reselling scheme aimed at raising money for the foreign terrorist organization ISIS,” Boston 25 News (a FOX affiliate) reported.
However, one week later, the left-wing news source The Intercept revealed that “according to the government’s own criminal complaint,” the Massachusetts teen “had never actually funded any terrorist group.”