WASHINGTON — Ray Epps, a Jan. 6 participant whose removal from the FBI’s Capitol Violence website sparked conspiracy theories that he was a federal informant, was charged in connection with Tuesday’s attack on the Capitol.
Epps is charged with a misdemeanor, disorderly or disruptive conduct on limited grounds. He was accused by information, suggesting he plans to reach a settlement. Not long after his arraignment, a virtual plea bargain hearing was scheduled for Wednesday, Sept. 20, before Chief Judge James Boasberg.
The criminal information accuses Epps of “knowingly, and with intent to impede and disrupt the orderly conduct of government business and official functions, engaging in disorderly and disruptive behavior in and near a restricted building and grounds – that is, at all.” conduct.” guarded, cordoned off, and otherwise restricted area within the United States Capitol and its grounds where the Vice President was and would temporarily reside – if and in such a manner that such conduct actually interfered with the orderly conduct of government business and officials and disrupted functions, and attempted and conspired to do so.
Most of the thousands who unlawfully gathered on the U.S. Capitol grounds have not been charged unless they engaged in aggravated conduct, such as attacking police or destroying property. The video shows that Epps tried to defuse tensions between police and rioters, although he can also be seen with his hands on a giant Trump sign as the rioters pushed their way into the police line. A federal judge on Jan. 6 acquitted another participant who was holding the same sign, saying his intent was unclear.
Epps is not accused of entering the Capitol; All that is known is that he was at the site on January 6th. NBC News reached out to attorneys representing Epps, who did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
In an interview with the committee on January 6 last year, Epps said that he traveled to Washington, DC, in January 2021 as a supporter of former President Donald Trump, but that the conspiracy theories that followed tore his life apart.
“I never intended to break the law,” Epps, a former Marine, told the committee. “It’s not in my DNA.” I’ve never – I’m sure you’ve looked up my file. I’m not breaking the law.”
Epps filed a defamation lawsuit against Fox News and former anchor Tucker Carlson for spreading conspiracy theories suggesting that Epps was some kind of agent of the federal government.
Representatives for Fox News and Carlson did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
The unsupported idea that Epps was some kind of government agent who incited the mob to storm the Capitol has become widely accepted in right-wing circles, and even members of Congress have raised the Epps case at congressional hearings. Dominic Pezzola, a member of the Proud Boys who was sentenced to 10 years in prison for his actions on January 6, even invoked Epps’ name during the trial.