MIDDLE VILLAGE, Queens — The wife of a Queens software engineer busted by the FBI with more than 1,000 rounds of rifle ammunition in his garage said her husband was “radicalized” by the words of President Donald Trump.
“Donald Trump is a cult leader, and his legacy will be the Capitol riots, the Proud Boys, and Parler,” Joni Florea told PIX11 in her first television interview.
Parler is an online platform that her husband, Eduard Florea, used to chat with other ultra-right Trump supporters. Joni Florea said she had used the Parler app as well, and voted for Trump in both presidential elections.
The Proud Boys are a right-wing organization that strongly supported Trump’s belief that fraudulent voting practices handed Joe Biden the presidency; they gained infamy when the president told them to “stand back and stand by” during a debate.
FBI agents had just finished debriefing Joni Florea in her Middle Village home Friday when we met the housewife in her kitchen, while her 8-year-old daughter and 4-year-old son watched TV in the living room.
Joni Florea said she was briefly handcuffed Tuesday, after agents called her husband out of the home; they drove an armored vehicle to let the family know they meant business.
She said FBI agents were kind to her daughter. The little girl reassured her mother by saying, “Mom, it’s okay, They gave us pizza!”
Joni Florea told PIX11 she’s endured a lot in recent years.
She’s a domestic violence survivor who said she stayed with her husband, even after his 2014 weapons arrest in Staten Island, because she didn’t want her children to be alone with him during visits if the couple ever divorced.
Regarding her earlier support for Trump, Joni Florea said, “I thought it was something me and my husband could get along on. I thought he was fighting for America.”
She was convinced that, “if we didn’t vote for him, we would fall to some kind of Communist regime.”
But Joni Florea noted that her home life got more difficult as the four-year Trump administration went along.
“Life wasn’t enjoyable anymore, because my husband became somebody else,” Florea said. “Anything I said or did against Donald Trump, it’s like I didn’t have a voice.”
She said she’s not alone.
“I think there are so many other women like me,” Florea added. “It’s the unspoken truth.”
This week, Trump became the first president in U.S. history to be impeached twice by the House of Representatives. This time, Congress members said Trump incited an insurrection.
“People stopped being Americans,” Joni Florea said. “They were either a far-right Trump supporter or a Democrat.”
Joni Florea was aware that her husband had been thrown off the Parler app, and federal prosecutors later revealed in court that Eduard Florea allegedly made online threats against D.C. politicians, specifically one of Georgia’s newest U.S. Senators, Rafael Warnock, a Black man.
Now, as her husband remains in a federal lock-up, Joni Florea said she’s on a mission to educate fellow Americans about the dangers of radical politics.
“Why don’t we, as Americans, go move on together?” she said.
Although she acknowledged being a bit scared by recent events, she added, “What I’m not afraid of is the truth.”
And Joni Florea choked up when she spoke about President-elect Joe Biden reaching out to Trump supporters in the aftermath of the Capitol riot, which left five people dead, including a Capitol police officer.
“I am ready to grab that hand of unity,” Florea said, her eyes welling up with tears. “Even after what happened, [Biden] still offered us that unity … Grab onto it guys, we don’t have to defend Donald Trump anymore, because he’s not going to defend you. He just cares about himself, and his legacy is now the storming of the Capitol.”
Joni Florea said she needs to get out her story, so the FBI — and her fellow citizens — know what she was dealing with in her household.
“The FBI is going to make sure they get the truth, and you guys are going to see that, too,” she said. “I do believe in America to do the right thing with me.”