Washington (AFP) – Ray EppsA former Donald Trump supporter who was the goal of a right-wing conspiracy concept in regards to the Jan. 6, 2021, assault that compelled him into hiding pleaded responsible Wednesday in court docket. Misdemeanor charge For his position in Riots at the US Capitol.
Epps appeared remotely at a listening to in federal court docket in Washington, coming into his plea to a cost of disorderly conduct on restricted grounds a day after the case was filed in an enormous Justice Division trial on January 6.
Epps’ legal professional mentioned after the listening to that it was a step towards getting his shopper’s “life” again to the place it was.
“The defamatory lies destroyed his life and the lives of his household,” protection legal professional Edward Ungvarsky mentioned in an e mail.
After the riot, Epps grew to become the main focus of a conspiracy concept — echoed by right-wing media — that he was a secret authorities agent who instigated the Capitol assault.
The previous Marine and ex-member of the extremist group Oath Keepers was kicked out of his house in Arizona She filed a defamation suit In opposition to Fox Information this yr, saying The network was to blame For spreading baseless allegations that led to demise threats and bullet casings in his yard.
Michael Teeter, the legal professional representing Epps within the defamation case, mentioned Epps’ plea settlement is “robust proof of the absurdity of the lies Fox Information and Tucker Carlson sought to show Ray right into a scapegoat on January 6.”
“If Ray had been charged earlier, Fox Information would have referred to as him a hero and political prisoner,” Teeter mentioned in an emailed assertion. “As an alternative, Fox Information unfold lies about Ray that value him his livelihood and his security.”
The decide set Epps’ sentencing for December 20. The cost lasts as much as a yr behind bars, however federal sentencing pointers name for zero to 6 months in jail, in accordance with court docket papers.
Epps, who labored as a roofer after serving 4 years as an infantryman within the US Marine Corps, has vehemently denied working for the FBI.
“Epps was not a confidential supply for the FBI or some other regulation enforcement company,” Assistant U.S. Legal professional Michael Gordon mentioned in the course of the listening to.
Epps mentioned he went to Washington to protest the 2020 election, which he mistakenly believed — based mostly on tales he heard on Fox Information — was stolen from the Republican president, who misplaced to Democrats. Joe Biden.
In movies shared extensively on social media and right-wing web sites, Epps was seen the day earlier than the riot saying: “Tomorrow, we have to go to the Capitol…peacefully.” On January 6, a video confirmed him saying: “As quickly because the president finishes talking, we go to the Capitol.” Epps mentioned he left the Capitol when he noticed individuals climbing the partitions and by no means entered the constructing.
“Mr. Epps urged different supporters of President Trump to be peaceable on Jan. 6 on the Capitol, and outdoors he repeatedly acted to help officers in an try to calm the proceedings,” mentioned Mr. Epps’ legal professional, Ungvarsky.
Epps’ legal professional famous that his shopper had been cooperating with the Capitol riot investigation since January 8, 2021. Epps contacted the FBI to supply his data after returning house from Washington and listening to from a relative that his picture was on an FBI web site. Brokers interviewed Epps and his then-lawyer in March 2021. The US Home of Representatives committee that investigated the January 6 assault additionally interviewed Epps.
Within the wake of the riot, the “seek for a scapegoat” got here to Epps, who later appeared in additional than two dozen segments on then-host Tucker Carlson’s prime-time present, Epps mentioned in his lawsuit.
A barrage of demise threats would power Epps and his spouse to promote their house in Mesa, Arizona, and dwell in an RV within the Rocky Mountains, he mentioned in an interview this yr on CBS’s “60 Minutes.”
“I needed to do issues to maintain my household secure,” mentioned Epps, who described having “run away.”
Fox Information and Carlson’s legal professional didn’t reply to messages in search of remark from The Related Press.
Epps was beforehand a member of the far-right group Oath Keepers, serving as a chapter chief in Arizona earlier than breaking away from the anti-government group just a few years earlier than the Jan. 6 assault as a result of the Oath Keepers had been “too excessive” for him. , He mentioned.
The founding father of the Oath Keepers was Stuart Rhodes and different members He was convicted of seditious conspiracy Within the January 6 assault, in what prosecutors mentioned was a weeks-long plot to cease the switch of energy from Trump to Biden. Rhodes was sentenced in Could Up to 18 years in prison.
In all, greater than 1,100 defendants have been charged with federal crimes in reference to the riots, and authorities proceed to commonly carry new instances practically three years later. Practically 670 individuals have pleaded responsible, and of these, 480 have pleaded responsible to misdemeanor expenses, in accordance with an Related Press evaluation of court docket information.
Richter reported from Boston. Lindsay Whitehurst in Washington contributed.
This text initially appeared on the Arizona Republic web site: Ray Epps, the Trump supporter targeted by the Jan. 6 conspiracy theory, pleads guilty to the Capitol riot charge