Two of three men who were active-duty Marines when theyin the pleaded guilty on Monday to riot-related criminal charges, officials said.
Joshua Abate and Dodge Dale Hellonen pleaded guilty to parading, demonstrating or picketing in a Capitol building, a spokesperson for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia said. They’re set to be sentenced in September. The charge carries a sentence of up to six months in prison, one year of supervised release and a fine of up to $5,000.
Abate and Hellonen, along with a third Marine, Micah Coomer, were identified by fellow Marines after the Jan. 6, 2021 riot. Abate was stationed at Fort Meade in Maryland; Hellonen was stationed at North Carolina’s Camp Lejeune; and Coomer was stationed at Southern California’s Camp Pendleton.
Hellonen was carrying a “Don’t Tread on Me” flag in the Capitol, according to a Justice Department statement of facts. While inside the building, Abate, Hellonen and Coomer placed a red “Make America Great Again” hat on one of the statues to take pictures with it. They were in the Capitol building for about 52 minutes, the statement said.
On June 1, 2022, more than a year after the riot, Abate was interviewed as part of his security clearance, officials said. He discussed what happened that day, saying he and two “buddies” were there and “walked around and tried not to get hit with tear gas.”
“Both Marines are active duty. The Marine Corps continues cooperating with the appropriate authorities. It is not appropriate for the Marine Corps to comment on ongoing legal matters,” a Headquarters Marine Corps spokesperson said.
When they were initially charged, Marines Maj. Kevin Stephensen, a spokesman for the Marine Corps, said the Corps was aware of the allegations and was “fully cooperating with appropriate authorities in support of the investigation.”