Ray Epps, the Trump supporter who was swept up in one of the crucial persistent right-wing conspiracy theories linked to the occasions of Jan. 6, 2021, pleaded responsible on Wednesday to a single misdemeanor cost for his position within the assault on the Capitol.
The 20-minute plea listening to, performed by video in Federal District Courtroom in Washington, got here sooner or later after the Justice Division charged Mr. Epps with disrupting the orderly conduct of presidency enterprise by getting into a restricted space on the Capitol grounds on Jan. 6.
Prosecutors stated on the listening to that other than breaching the barricades outdoors the Capitol, Mr. Epps positioned his palms on a large Trump signal that the mob used as a battering ram in opposition to the police.
Mr. Epps will face a most of 1 yr in jail when he’s sentenced in December.
Mr. Epps, a former Marine and marriage ceremony venue proprietor who voted twice for Donald J. Trump, turned the unlikely focus of a conspiracy concept promoted on Fox Information and by right-wing commentators. It held that he had been a covert authorities asset who helped instigate the riot as a means of discrediting Trump supporters.
The speculation was largely primarily based on the truth that he was by no means charged with any crimes, though he was captured on video the evening earlier than the riot encouraging individuals to enter the Capitol. He was additionally seen on Jan. 6 pointing others towards the constructing after which getting into a restricted space of the Capitol grounds.
The responsible plea entered by Mr. Epps confirmed that he was being held accountable for his crimes and undercut the narrative that he was being protected by the federal authorities.
Throughout the listening to, a prosecutor advised Decide James E. Boasberg, who’s overseeing that case, that Mr. Epps had not labored as an agent of the federal government “earlier than, throughout or after” Jan. 6. Citing the conspiracy theories, Edward J. Ungvarsky, a lawyer for Mr. Epps, requested Decide Boasberg to grant Mr. Epps uncommon privileges earlier than his sentencing, together with sustaining the precise to personal a gun.
Mr. Ungvarsky argued that conspiracy-fueled threats had pressured Mr. Epps to depart his job and residential state, and justified letting Mr. Epps proceed to journey freely and have entry to firearms. Decide Boasberg flatly denied the request, citing his report of limiting gun entry to others charged in reference to the riot.
In an announcement issued after the listening to, Mr. Ungvarsky stated Mr. Epps’s responsible plea was “a step in placing his life again collectively.”
It stays unclear why the Justice Division determined to cost Mr. Epps now, greater than two and a half years after the Capitol assault. The charging doc used in opposition to him, referred to as a felony data, was filed two months after he introduced a defamation lawsuit in opposition to Fox Information, making certain that his story would stay within the public eye for months, if not years. It additionally got here after he determined to combat again in opposition to the conspiracy concept within the information media, granting interviews to each The New York Instances and CBS’s “60 Minutes.”
Mr. Epps was one in all solely a handful of people that trespassed on the Capitol grounds on Jan. 6 however didn’t enter the constructing itself to be prosecuted. Whereas movies from that day clearly depict him as being within the first wave of rioters to maneuver previous a police barricade outdoors the Capitol, footage from later within the day reveals him attempting to calm the gang round him and de-escalate tensions with the police.
A listening to for oral arguments is prone to be scheduled quickly in Mr. Epps’s defamation go well with in opposition to Fox, which is unfolding in Federal District Courtroom in Wilmington, Del. His lawyer in that case, Michael Teter, stated in an announcement on Wednesday that Mr. Epps cooperated with the F.B.I. as quickly as he realized that investigators have been attempting to establish him.
“Had Ray been charged earlier, Fox Information would have known as him a hero and political prisoner,” Mr. Teter stated. “As a substitute, Fox Information unfold falsehoods about Ray which have value him his livelihood and security.”