US Capitol riot instigator given probation
One of the alleged instigators of the US Capitol riot has been sentenced to just a year’s probation after pleading guilty to disorderly conduct in a restricted area, despite his prominent role in the unrest.
January 6 rioter Ray Epps, must complete 100 hours of community service and pay a $500 restitution fee, Chief District Judge James Boasberg of the US District Court for the District of Columbia has ruled.
The sentence is strikingly light given other defendants, including some who never entered the Capitol or weren’t even in Washington, DC at the time of the riot were handed custodial sentences of two decades or more. The court’s decision to allow Epps to “phone in” to his sentencing hearing revived suspicions that he could have been working for the FBI or another agency when he repeatedly urged groups of protesters to enter the building.
Epps can be seen encouraging rioters in footage posted to social media by fellow Stop the Steal protesters on January 6, and the night before.
In one clip, fellow demonstrator Tim Gionet (better known as YouTube streamer Baked Alaska) responds by initiating a chant of “Fed!” – accusing Epps of being a federal agent.
“No jail time for Ray Epps! Totally not a fed btw,” Gionet wrote in a post on X (formerly Twitter) on Tuesday following the sentencing.
“Meanwhile, there are truly peaceful protesters ROTTING in prison simply for wandering onto Capitol grounds,” commentator Nick Sortor wrote in a post on X.
While Epps initially appeared on the FBI’s “wanted” page for January 6 protesters, he was soon removed without being arrested, leading many to suspect he had been working with the agency or some other government entity to rile up the crowd.
After numerous conservative influencers, including former Fox News host Tucker Carlson, publicly accused Epps of being an agent tasked with “stage-manag[ing] the insurrection,” he was finally arrested – and promptly sued Fox News.
The network had unjustly used him as a “scapegoat,” he claimed, accusing Fox of “promoting the lie that Epps was a federal agent who incited the attack on the Capitol.”
Epps would later claim he had tried to “defuse the situation” at the Capitol, insisting he was “shocked and disappointed” to see people climbing the government building’s walls during the riot.
Many of those charged in connection with January 6 received harsh sentences regardless of their proximity to the actual riot. Proud Boys leader (and federal informant) Enrique Tarrio, who was not in Washington, DC on that date, received 22 years, while Guy Reffitt, whose own son turned him into the FBI, received seven years despite remaining outside the Capitol during the unrest.
Nearly two-thirds of the 1,230 January 6 Capitol riot defendants have received a custodial sentence, according to the Associated Press.