2 friends from Virginia plead guilty to Capitol riot charges

WASHINGTON (AP) — Two friends from Virginia pleaded guilty on Tuesday to charges that they joined the mob that stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6.

Cindy Fitchett, 60, and Douglas Sweet, 59, both face a maximum sentence of six months in prison after pleading guilty to misdemeanor counts of parading, demonstrating or picketing in a Capitol building.

U.S. District Judge Carl Nichols is scheduled to sentence them on Nov. 9 during a hearing held by video conference.

More than 560 people have been charged with federal crimes stemming from the Capitol riot. At least 35 of those defendants have pleaded guilty to riot-related charges as of Tuesday.

Fitchett and Sweet were among a group of six people who were arrested by police officers inside the Capitol during the siege.

Fitchett and Sweet traveled together from Virginia to attend former President Donald Trump’s rally on Jan. 6 before heading over to the Capitol. They were surrounded by a large group of people who were yelling and making banging noises as they approached an entrance to the building, said Justice Department prosecutor Seth Meinero.

Fitchett recorded a video of herself shouting, “We are storming the Capitol! We have broken in!”

Sweet told authorities that he didn’t hear officers’ commands to leave the Capitol. The FBI didn’t find any evidence that Sweet or Fitchett engaged in violent or disruptive conduct, Meinero said.

After the riot, Sweet told WTKR-TV in Virginia that he went to Washington to “talk to” the House and Senate. He also told the television station that he “wanted his voice heard” but wasn’t trying to stop Congress from certifying President Joe Biden’s electoral victory, Meinero noted.

The six people who were arrested together inside the Capitol also were charged in the same federal court case. Two of those people, Thomas Gallagher and Michael Curzio, pleaded guilty in July to the same charge as Fitchett and Sweet.

Another co-defendant, Bradley Rukstales, has signed a plea agreement but is waiting for a hearing to be scheduled for him to formally enter the guilty plea, according to Meinero. A plea offer is pending for the sixth co-defendant, Terry Brown, the prosecutor said.

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