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Matthew Perna was 37 years old. On February 25, 2022, Matt hung himself in his garage, leaving behind his family, who were completely devastated. Matt was a January 6 Peaceful Protester who went to DC that day hoping that the election would not be certified and a celebration of historic proportions would occur. He walked through a previously opened door, with a crowd of people pushing behind him. The police stood to the side and ushered him and the others in (all caught on video). He walked through the Rotunda filming live from his phone, and stayed within the velvet ropes. He did not touch, steal, or break anything. He had no altercations with anyone.
When the FBI posted his picture on their website days later, Matt immediately turned himself in and honestly answered all of their questions. Matt did not have a violent bone in his body. He had a kind, sweet spirit and hoped that the truth would be revealed and charges would be dropped. That did not happen. Instead, they charged him with a felony of obstruction of congress, even though he entered the building 45 minutes after congress had adjourned and evacuated. The media were ruthless. He lost his friends, his income, and the support of his community. The months that followed were gruesome. Hearings were constantly delayed and canceled. Matt's attorney kept telling him not to worry, that he would not serve any jail time. Before his arrest, he had never had a parking ticket. He earned a good living and was a well-respected individual.
During that year, Matt had become a shell of his former self. He no longer did the things he enjoyed. He was an avid runner, photographer, and world traveler. He loved people and had a giving heart. He reached the point when he no longer would leave his house, except to visit his Aunt or his Dad. He lost weight and began throwing up blood. He suffered from horrible nightmares and developed a stutter when he spoke. He lost his zest for life, and it was truly heartbreaking to witness.
His attorney encouraged him to plead guilty because he felt Matt was not strong enough to stand trial, and he said he would not receive a fair trial in DC. He told him that the worst sentence he would receive would be 6 to 12 months in a federal prison camp. So, Matt agreed to plead guilty, even though he did nothing wrong. Matt just wanted this to all end, serve his time and move on with his life. He was scheduled to be sentenced on March 3, 2022, but he phoned his attorney on February 21, 2022, because he had a bad feeling about the hearing. It was then that his attorney informed him that the justice department would add "enhancements" that would drastically increase his prison sentence. They did not have any new evidence; they were merely trying to exaggerate the existing charges to take his sentence to 51 to 72 months. This was more than Matt could handle. He killed himself.
Our family has decided to carry on with Matt's legacy by raising the necessary funds to implement The Matthew Perna Foundation. There are many legal expenses involved in starting a 501c3 (nonprofit), so the first step in our efforts is to achieve that status. Once we are approved, the funds raised will facilitate the foundation and honor Matt's name as he so justly deserved. Matt believed in helping his fellow man, and lived his life doing exactly that. The stories are endless about the people he helped, many who he didn't even know. Matt was a humble person and was instrumental in changing the lives of so many people. Every week someone reaches out to tell us a story about Matt and how he was there for them when they needed help or even just a shoulder to cry on. The goal of the foundation will be to offer scholarships to students in need, offer assistance in humanitarian efforts on a local and global scale, and continue Matt's generous spirit and honor his memory.
Matt is gone but never will be forgotten. All donations are genuinely appreciated.