Josiah Colt, the man photographed swinging from a balcony inside the Senate chamber on January 6, pleaded guilty Wednesday to one felony charge of obstruction. In pleading guilty, Colt also agreed to cooperate with prosecutors.
That’s a potentially significant development for the cases of riot suspects Ronald Sandlin and Nathan DeGrave, who prosecutors described Wednesday as Colt’s co-conspirators, although the men have been charged separately. Sandlin and DeGrave have both pleaded not guilty.
None of the three have been charged with having weapons at the January 6 Capitol riot, but prosecutors have said in various court filings that the men drove with a cache of weapons and ammunition to D.C., and described how the trio breached the Capitol in an effort to disrupt the certification of the presidential election.
A judge said Wednesday that in exchange for his guilty plea and promise to cooperate, Colt will face a recommended sentencing range of 51 months to 63 months — about 4 to 5 years — and a fine of anywhere from $20,000 to $200,000. Colt also agreed to pay $1,000 in restitution.
During his plea agreement hearing Wednesday, Colt admitted to prosecutors’ allegations that he traveled with Sandlin and DeGrave and that the trio used a private group chat to discuss their plans for January 6, including plans to ship guns to Sandlin’s residence in Tennessee.
Colt admitted that he traveled in a rental car from Tennessee to Washington, D.C. with Sandlin and DeGrave on January 5, and that the trio brought with them a slew of weapons and gear including a Glock 43 pistol, two magazines of ammunition, a handheld taser stun gun, knives, gas mask, body armor, an expandable baton, walkie-talkies and bear mace.
Colt also admitted that he brought a pistol to a separate rally in Washington on January 5, but did not bring that gun when he breached the U.S. Capitol on January 6.
He admitted that he and his co-conspirators entered the U.S. Capitol during the siege, and that on his way into the building he repeatedly said, “Let’s get to the Senate, bro.”
Colt was photographed in a now-viral image as he swung from the balcony in the Senate and dropped to the floor of the chamber, which lawmakers had evacuated just a short time before.
He then ran to sit in the seat at the head of the room, which prosecutors note was reserved for Vice President Mike Pence. In a video he later posted to Facebook, Colt mistakenly claimed he had sat in House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s chair, and called her a traitor.
Colt acknowledged his goal was to obstruct the certification of the 2020 presidential election. In a search warrant filed in February, prosecutors referenced a video that the trio had recorded on January 6, where Colt allegedly said, “The whole thing is a scam, dude. The whole election, they can’t just steal an election. Like they are trying to do in Georgia last night. It is a lie.”
Sandlin posted a photo on Facebook, prosecutors said, that showed Colt lying in a bed holding a firearm, with the caption, “My fellow patriot Josiah Colt sleeping ready for the boogaloo Jan 6.”
Prosecutors noted that “boogaloo” is a term used in some circles to refer to civil war, and said Colt commented on the post, “Ready for any battle,” with a crying-laughing emoji.
During his plea hearing Wednesday, Colt acknowledged the existence of the post and his comment, but told a judge it was “taken a little bit out of context.” He said, “The picture posted was actually a joke. It was kind of like a funny joke.”
One other Capitol riot defendant, Paul Hodgkins, has also pleaded guilty to a single charge of obstruction, though his plea deal did not involve a cooperation agreement. His recommended sentence is 15 to 21 months.
As of Wednesday afternoon, at least 16 defendants had pleaded guilty to charges stemming from the January 6 Capitol riot. Five have agreed to cooperate with the government.
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