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Real estate agent who chartered jet for Jan. 6 rallies pleads guilty to Capitol riot charges

Jason Hyland told FBI agents that two Capitol Police officers were holding open the doors to the Capitol building during the riot and when he asked if he could go inside, one officer responded that "everyone already is."

WASHINGTON (CN) — A Texas real estate agent who chartered a private plane to Washington, D.C., for the pro-Trump rallies-turned-riot on Jan. 6, 2021, pleaded guilty Monday for his role in the Capitol attack. 

Jason Hyland entered his guilty plea in Washington federal court to parading, demonstrating or picketing in a Capitol building in exchange for the more serious charges against him to be dropped, including disorderly conduct and violent entry in a restricted building. He also agreed to cooperate with the government and to pay $500 in restitution as part of a plea agreement.

The 37-year-old coordinated what he referred to as the “patriot flight” from Denton, Texas, to the nation’s capital to attend pro-Trump rallies on Jan. 6, according to court filings. He invited two friends from Facebook, Jennifer Ryan and Katherine Schwab, who he claimed to have never met in person before. They invited two others who he also had never met and are not identified in court filings. 

“[T]hanks for joining me to DC to stand up for America,” Hyland allegedly texted the group on Jan. 5. “This will be historic - no matter the outcome.”

On the morning of Jan. 6, Hyland told FBI agents that the group of five got up early and attended a morning pro-Trump rally at the Ellipse, where then-President Donald Trump spoke. They eventually walked over to the Capitol building for an afternoon rally and saw that there was no stage and just one food truck, so Hyland and three others decided to go back to the hotel.

Sometime before 1 p.m., the group of four took an Uber back to the Capitol building. Hyland told FBI agents that when they left the hotel, he “did not know what was happening at the Capitol, only that there were a lot of people present.”

After being dropped off, they made their way to the east side of the Capitol building where Hyland says people were already inside. He told investigators that the walk up the steps of the Capitol building was like a “funnel.”

“There were two Capitol Police officers holding the doors open at the top of the stairs,” according to Hyland's criminal complaint. “Hyland asked if he could go inside, and one of the police officers said, ‘everyone else is.’”

He and Ryan entered the building and while inside, Hyland recorded himself and can be heard making comments about owning the Capitol building because he is a taxpayer.

Hyland claims he was only inside for a short time and he quickly left through the same door he came in after hearing what sounded like flashbang.

He turned himself into authorities about a month after the Capitol riot and has since remained on personal recognizance.

U.S. District Judge Christopher Cooper, an Obama appointee, is scheduled to sentence Hyland on Aug. 2. Hyland is represented by Nina Ginsberg and he faces up to six months imprisonment, five years probation and a $5,000 fine.

Ryan faced the same charges as Hyland and struck the same plea deal with prosecutors in November. Cooper sentenced her to 60 days incarceration and $1,600 in fines.

Meanwhile, Schwab has pleaded not guilty to the same charges and is scheduled to go to trial June 20.

They are among more than 775 people who have been charged in connection with the Capitol riot.

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