Michigan Republican who called January 6 arrest "witch hunt" pleads guilty to charge
Washington DC - Former Michigan Republican gubernatorial candidate Ryan Kelley pleaded guilty in court Thursday to charges in connection with the January 6 Capitol attack.
Kelley's sentencing is set for October 17 in US District Court for the District of Columbia.
The government says he faces up to six months in prison and a fine of $1,000 to $9,500 under the estimated sentencing guidelines for the federal misdemeanor crime of entering and remaining in a restricted building or grounds.
As part of the plea deal, Kelley agreed to pay $500 in restitution toward the $2.8 million in damage done to the Capitol building during the riot.
The plea deal brings closer to resolution the criminal case against one of Michigan's best-known defendants charged with January 6 crimes, who had previously called his arrest a "political witch hunt."
Over 1,000 people have been charged nationwide in nearly 50 states in connection to the Capitol attack, according to the Department of Justice. Nearly 600 of those pleaded guilty to a variety of federal charges as of July 6.
Kelley accused of egging on Capitol rioters
Kelley's lawyer Gary Springstead told The Detroit News last month that his client had gone to Washington to protest the 2020 election and didn't realize that the protesters there hadn't pulled a permit to be there. The 41-year-old was a supporter of former President Donald Trump, who lost the 2020 election to President Joe Biden.
"There has never been any allegation that he ever entered the Capitol and there was never any allegation that he engaged in violence or threat of violence that day," Springstead said.
"Resolving the case with a minor misdemeanor like this is probably the most efficient, cost-effective way to resolve the case," Springstead added.
Prosecutors had accused Kelley of rushing past US Capitol Police officers and climbing onto portions of the Capitol building, encouraging, yelling, and gesturing to other rioters by waving his hand toward the north-west stairs leading to the Capitol.
He also used his hands to support another rioter who was hauling a metal bike rack labeled "Property of US Capitol Police" onto a temporary scaffolding structure on the north-west side of the Capitol, according to a narrative of the alleged crime. Investigators also said Kelley, while standing on an "architectural feature" of the Capitol, also removed a covering from a temporary scaffolding structure built outside the Capitol for Biden's upcoming inauguration ceremony.
Kelley is described as gesturing to the crowd, "consistently indicating they should move toward the stairs that led to the entrance to the US Capitol building," then running along a stair railing and entering the Capitol's north-west courtyard, "using his thumbs" to motion the crowd toward the building.
Kelley struck plea deal with DOJ
Kelley was charged last summer amid the GOP gubernatorial campaign with four misdemeanors, three of which were dropped as part of the plea deal.
He also agreed to cooperate with other January 6 investigations by giving investigators an interview regarding the events of that day, and letting them review his social media accounts that he used on the day of the riot.
The gubernatorial candidate ultimately finished fourth in the GOP primary with 15% of the vote.
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