WASHINGTON (CN) — A man incriminated in last year's insurrection by his own Instagram posts reached a plea deal Thursday and has agreed to become a cooperating witness.
As U.S. District Judge Jia Cobb walked Christopher Ortiz through the plea agreement this morning, the 27-year-old hesitated when asked if he willfully and knowingly entered the Capitol building on Jan. 6, 2021, knowing he did not have permission to do so.
He took up the judge’s offer to go to a breakout room with his court-appointed attorney, Danielle Jahn.
After about 20 minutes, Ortiz returned and pleaded guilty to parading, demonstrating or picketing in a Capitol building. The New Yorker initially faced three other charges that are more serious, including disorderly and disruptive conduct, but they are being dropped as part of the deal. He also agreed to cooperate with prosecutors.
Ortiz was arrested on Jan. 28, 2021, after at least two informants sent the FBI posts he made on Instagram that depicted him entering the Capitol building during the riot.
In one post, an informant said Ortiz can be heard yelling, “Onward! Onward,” as a crowd of people breached the building.
One of the people who turned Ortiz in typed out a reply to the Instagram posts, asking what he was doing. Ortiz responded, "Participating in government!"
He later added: “Lol they can come and get me; I didn't break or vandalize or steal; I walked through and out. I'd storm the Capitol for you any day.”
Ortiz was released the same day he was arrested on a $60,000 bond and he has publicly downplayed both the riot and his actions. Claiming he is not a supporter of former President Donald J. Trump, Ortiz maintained that he went to the Capitol on Jan. 6 to “understand people.”
In an interview with News 12 last January, Ortiz said he thinks ”the sensationalism around the violence at the riot isn't right.”
“I don't think it was violent, I didn't vandalize, I didn't steal, I didn't break anything, I didn't burn anything,” he said. “There on D.C. that day, I saw a group that represents about half of our entire country. And I feel like the division across this nation is reaching a high.”
Ortiz faces up to six months in prison, five years’ probation and a $500 fine.
The judge, a Biden appointee, ordered Ortiz’s attorney to submit a sentencing memorandum by June 14. The government’s reply is due by June 21. He is scheduled to be sentenced on June 28.
To date, more than 750 people have been charged in connection with the Capitol riot.
As of March 10, approximately 195 people have pleaded guilty to misdemeanors and 29 have pleaded guilty to felonies.
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