WASHINGTON (CN) — Getting the more serious charges against him dropped in the process, a 29-year-old Illinois man who was recorded in a TikTok video fighting National Guardsmen during last year’s Capitol riot pleaded guilty on Friday to civil disorder.
Mathew Capsel was arrested about three weeks after the right-wing attempt to overthrow America’s government on Jan. 6, 2021. The FBI said it received a number of tips about Capsel, including screenshots and videos from his pseudonymous Facebook profile "Mateo Q Capsel," apparently showing him “on the frontline of the riot.” One former neighbor apparently said he was “known to be violent.”
The government summarized Capsel’s actions during the insurrection as "fighting against National Guardsmen until he is pepper sprayed … Specifically, the video depicts Capsel charging against a lined group of National Guardsman (sic), running into their protective shields.”
Capsel was initially charged with resisting law enforcement and knowingly entering or remaining in a restricted area. But a superseding indictment filed about 10 days before the plea hearing brought a new charge against him: civil disorder.
During Friday’s hearing, Capsel’s attorney said that he worked with the government for the last year and a half on the plea agreement, resulting with the government tossing the other more serious charges.
U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan asked Capsel about his decision to waive his right to an indictment on the new charge. Capsel acknowledged his decision meant that he allowed the government to charge him with civil disorder based on its own information, as opposed to prosecutors presenting the information to a grand jury to determine if there is enough evidence to charge him.
Capsel also admitted to the court that he pushed National Guardsmen during the Capitol riot.
Judge Chutkan, an Obama appointee, asked Capsel if he knew the Guardsmen were engaged in their official duties at the time, to which Capsel replied, “yes, your honor.”
By pleading guilty this afternoon, Capsel is avoiding decades behind bars. He now faces a statutory sentence of up to five years of incarceration, three years’ supervised release and a $250,000 fine.
Judge Chutkan accepted his guilty plea and set a sentencing date for Dec. 16. Capsel has been on pretrial release since Feb. 2021.
Meanwhile, former President Donald Trump said Thursday that he is financially supporting some Jan. 6 defendants, and he will “very, very seriously consider” full pardons for those who are convicted, if he is reelected.
And President Joe Biden took direct aim at his predecessor during a primetime televised address Thursday night, telling viewers the Republican Party is currently “driven and intimidated by Donald Trump and the MAGA Republicans … and that is a threat to this country.”
The Justice Department has so far charged more than 860 people in connection with the Capitol riot. As of July 6, about 283 people have pleaded guilty to misdemeanors, 70 have pleaded guilty to felonies, and at least 99 people have been sentenced to a period of incarceration.
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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