The California gym owner who told investigators he had a police escort inside the U.S. Capitol building on Jan. 6 and later tried to blame the riots there on “Antifa members in disguise” has pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor.
Jacob Lewis, 38, pleaded guilty to parading, demonstrating, or picketing in a Capitol building on Thursday. He had also been charged with three other misdemeanors, including entering and remaining in a restricted building and disorderly conduct.
Lewis appeared before U.S. District Judge Christopher Cooper. Lewis admitted to entering the Capitol building without authorization, after joining the crowd of pro-Donald Trump extremists who overran law enforcement in an attempt to stop the congressional count of Electoral College votes and block Joe Biden’s win in the 2020 presidential election.
The misdemeanor parading and picketing charge comes with a potential six-month prison sentence and a fine up to $5,000. Sentences for Jan. 6 defendants convicted on this charge have ranged from probation and home detention to the maximum six months, according to the DOJ.
According to prosecutors, two anonymous tipsters flagged Lewis to the FBI. One said that Lewis flew from Victorville, a high desert city in Southern California’s Inland Empire, to Washington “to attack the Capitol along with many Trump supporters to stop the certification of the electoral college,” the statement of facts said.
That tipster said that Lewis posted videos from the Capitol on Jan. 6 to his personal Instagram account.
Another tipster told the FBI that during a conversation with Lewis in December, Lewis told them to “watch what happens to the Capitol on the 6th.”
This second tipster then said that Lewis “had shown them pictures of firearms and previously asked them if they could get Lewis ammunition[.]” This person had never seen Lewis with any guns in person and did not hear Lewis make any threats of violence regarding Jan. 6, the statement of facts said.
In an interview with local FBI agents, Lewis said that he entered the Capitol building after it had already been breached by other people. He told investigators that he was never told he couldn’t enter the building, and that police “escorted” him inside.
“He stated that he did not partake in any violence while he was in the building and that he believed that some individuals involved in agitating were Antifa members in disguise,” the statement of facts said.
Video evidence told a different story, however. Surveillance footage showed Lewis breaching the Senate Wing door to the building, walking by the House Wing doors, and walking through the crypt before leaving the building.
“At no point does it appear that he has a police escort,” the statement of facts said.
Jan. 6 wasn’t Lewis’ first time flouting the law. In April 2020, Lewis defied a California order shutting down nonessential businesses as coronavirus cases spiked in the state.
Lewis, the owner of The Gym, declared on Instagram that the gym was “essential” and announced that he would keep it open to customers.
“The Gym is ‘essential’ to people’s mental and physical health,” he said in the post. “With that being said, I, Jacob Lewis will take full responsibility for re-opening of the gym.”
In a moment of levity, Cooper, a Barack Obama appointee, asked Lewis about a recent trip he took to Cancun, Mexico. In November, Cooper had granted Lewis’ request to travel to the popular resort city in December so that he could attend a wedding.
“How was Cancun?” Cooper asked.
“It was a nice wedding,” Lewis responded. “The weather was amazing.”
Lewis’ sentencing has been set for April 14.
You can read the FBI’s statement of facts here:
[Images via FBI]
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