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Man who swung from Senate balcony January 6 pleads guilty

▶ Watch Video: Marking 6 months since deadly assault on U.S. Capitol

Josiah Colt, the man photographed swinging from a balcony inside the Senate chamber on January 6, pleaded guilty Wednesday to one felony charge of obstruction. In pleading guilty, Colt also agreed to cooperate with prosecutors. 

That’s a potentially significant development for the cases of riot suspects Ronald Sandlin and Nathan DeGrave, who prosecutors described Wednesday as Colt’s co-conspirators, although the men have been charged separately. Sandlin and DeGrave have both pleaded not guilty.

None of the three have been charged with having weapons at the January 6 Capitol riot, but prosecutors have said in various court filings that the men drove with a cache of weapons and ammunition to D.C., and described how the trio breached the Capitol in an effort to disrupt the certification of the presidential election.

Josiah Colt pleaded guilty Wednesday and admitted to swinging from the Senate chamber balcony after entering the U.S. Capitol during the January 6 riot.

Win McNamee / Getty

A judge said Wednesday that in exchange for his guilty plea and promise to cooperate, Colt will face a recommended sentencing range of 51 months to 63 months — about 4 to 5 years — and a fine of anywhere from $20,000 to $200,000. Colt also agreed to pay $1,000 in restitution.

During his plea agreement hearing Wednesday, Colt admitted to prosecutors’ allegations that he traveled with Sandlin and DeGrave and that the trio used a private group chat to discuss their plans for January 6, including plans to ship guns to Sandlin’s residence in Tennessee.

Colt admitted that he traveled in a rental car from Tennessee to Washington, D.C. with Sandlin and DeGrave on January 5, and that the trio brought with them a slew of weapons and gear including a Glock 43 pistol, two magazines of ammunition, a handheld taser stun gun, knives, gas mask, body armor, an expandable baton, walkie-talkies and bear mace.

Colt also admitted that he brought a pistol to a separate rally in Washington on January 5, but did not bring that gun when he breached the U.S. Capitol on January 6. 

He admitted that he and his co-conspirators entered the U.S. Capitol during the siege, and that on his way into the building he repeatedly said, “Let’s get to the Senate, bro.”

Colt was photographed in a now-viral image as he swung from the balcony in the Senate and dropped to the floor of the chamber, which lawmakers had evacuated just a short time before.

A protester, later identified as Josiah Colt, moves to the floor of the Senate chamber during the U.S. Capitol riot on January 6, 2021.

Win McNamee / Getty Images

He then ran to sit in the seat at the head of the room, which prosecutors note was reserved for Vice President Mike Pence. In a video he later posted to Facebook, Colt mistakenly claimed he had sat in House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s chair, and called her a traitor.

Colt acknowledged his goal was to obstruct the certification of the 2020 presidential election. In a search warrant filed in February, prosecutors referenced a video that the trio had recorded on January 6, where Colt allegedly said, “The whole thing is a scam, dude. The whole election, they can’t just steal an election. Like they are trying to do in Georgia last night. It is a lie.” 

Sandlin posted a photo on Facebook, prosecutors said, that showed Colt lying in a bed holding a firearm, with the caption, “My fellow patriot Josiah Colt sleeping ready for the boogaloo Jan 6.” 

Prosecutors said Sandlin posted a photo on Facebook that showed Colt lying in a bed holding a firearm. Colt admitted that the post was accurate, but told a judge, “The picture posted was actually a joke. It was kind of like a funny joke.”

Department of Justice

Prosecutors noted that “boogaloo” is a term used in some circles to refer to civil war, and said Colt commented on the post, “Ready for any battle,” with a crying-laughing emoji.

During his plea hearing Wednesday, Colt acknowledged the existence of the post and his comment, but told a judge it was “taken a little bit out of context.” He said, “The picture posted was actually a joke. It was kind of like a funny joke.”

One other Capitol riot defendant, Paul Hodgkins, has also pleaded guilty to a single charge of obstruction, though his plea deal did not involve a cooperation agreement. His recommended sentence is 15 to 21 months.

As of Wednesday afternoon, at least 16 defendants had pleaded guilty to charges stemming from the January 6 Capitol riot. Five have agreed to cooperate with the government.


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