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Combat engineer who rejoined Army after Capitol riot pleads guilty to assaulting police on Jan. 6

James Mault admitted Friday alongside his co-defendant, Cody Mattice, that they used chemical irritants against police during the insurrection last year.

WASHINGTON (CN) — Getting the more serious charges against him dropped in the process, a 30-year-old New York man who reenlisted in the Army just months after rioting at the U.S. Capitol pleaded guilty on Friday to assaulting, impeding or obstructing an officer.

By the time James Mault rejoined the Army as combat engineer last summer, the FBI had already received an anonymous tip that he was involved in the right-wing attempt to overthrow America's government on Jan. 6, 2021. Mault was arrested while stationed at Ft. Bragg in October and charged along with fellow rioter Cody Mattice with several felonies in connection with the conspiracy to stop Congress from certification the results of the 2020 presidential election.

During a Friday plea hearing with his co-defendant, Mault described watching Mattice use chemical spray against police inside a tunnel on the west side of the Capitol building during the riot. He said he in turn did the same thing and later handed a canister to another rioter.

U.S. District Chief Judge Beryl Howell asked Mault if he knew the police were engaged in their official duties at the time, to which Mault replied, “yes, your honor.”

Mault and Mattice, 29, both pleaded guilty this afternoon. Instead of decades behind bars, the men now face up to eight years of incarceration, three years’ supervised release and a $150,000 fine. Judge Howell, a Bush appointee, accepted their guilty pleas and set a sentencing date for July 15.

Elsewhere in the federal courthouse on Friday, a 56-year-old Washington man pleaded guilty to assaulting, resisting, or impeding officers using a dangerous weapon.

Mark Ponder ran out from a crowd that overwhelmed police in the West Plaza and hit an officer’s riot shield with a pole, according to court filings. After the pole broke, Ponder retreated into the crowd and returned with a thicker pole, which he then used against two other officers, one of whom blocked the pole with a riot shield while the other was hit in the shoulder.

Ponder has been incarcerated since his arrest on March 17, just two months after the riot. 

He is scheduled to be sentenced on July 18 by U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan, an Obama appointee. Ponder faces a statutory maximum of up to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000.

As of April 6, nearly 800 people have been charged in connection with the Capitol riot. Out of more than 250 charged with assaulting, resisting, or impeding officers or employees, at least 85 defendants have been charged with using a deadly or dangerous weapon or causing serious bodily injury to an officer.

Approximately 140 police officers were assaulted during the Capitol riot, including about 80 from the U.S. Capitol Police force and about 60 from the Metropolitan Police Department.

The FBI is still looking for more than 250 people who assaulted police officers during the insurrection.

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