Maryland man who stormed the US Capitol while wearing a tracking device is jailed for the January 6 riot

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A Maryland man described by the FBI as a “self-proclaimed” white supremacist was sentenced to four months in prison on Wednesday for storming the US Capitol while wearing a court-mandated device that tracked his movements, according to court records.

U.S. District Judge Timothy Kelly also sentenced Bryan Betancur to one year of supervised release after his jail term and ordered him to pay $500 in restitution.

Betancur, 22, was on probation for a 2019 burglary conviction when he traveled from suburban Washington to Silver Spring, Maryland, and joined the mob that attacked the Capitol on January 6, 2021. A surveillance device GPS he wore under the terms of his probation showed he spent about three hours in or around the Capitol that afternoon.

Betancur climbed scaffolding outside the Capitol before helping other rioters remove furniture from a conference room, prosecutors said. They added that the rioters likely used furniture as weapons and projectiles during a clash with police in a tunnel on the Lower West Terrace.

Betancur pleaded guilty in May to one count of entering and staying in a restricted building or land, an offense punishable by a maximum of one year behind bars. Prosecutors recommended sentencing Betancur to six months incarceration, 12 months of supervised release, 60 hours of community service and $500 in restitution.

About 850 people have been charged with federal crimes for their conduct on January 6. Over 350 of them have pleaded guilty, mostly to misdemeanors, and over 230 have been sentenced. Dozens of Capitol Riot defendants who pleaded guilty to misdemeanors were sentenced to prison terms ranging from seven days to five months.

Betancur lied to the FBI during an interview after his guilty plea, falsely stating that he only entered the Capitol for his safety, prosecutors say. He told the FBI agent who interviewed him that he had heard that law enforcement had planned the Capitol riot and that it was an “inside job”, a said a prosecutor.

Then-President Donald Trump addressed a crowd of his supporters at the ‘Stop the Steal’ rally before many headed to the Capitol, where Congress was preparing to certify the President Joe Biden’s election victory in 2020.

“Betancur also insisted that the 2020 election was stolen,” Justice Department prosecutor Maria Fedor wrote in a court filing.

Betancur waved “OK” – a gesture many far-right extremists have adopted as a trolling tactic or an outright symbol of hate – as he left his interview with an FBI agent in July 2022.

The FBI believe Betancur aspired to join the far-right extremist group Proud Boys but was not an official member. He wore a Proud Boys shirt under his jacket on Jan. 6 and met with band members before heading to the Capitol.

Footage recovered from his cellphone showed him in Washington with members of the Proud Boys on December 12, 2020. Probation officers allowed Betancur to visit the city that day and January 6, both times on the pretext that he was traveling with Gideon International to distribute Bibles.

Betancur told law enforcement he was a member of several white supremacist groups and said he wanted to run over people with a vehicle and kill people in a church, an FBI agent wrote in an affidavit .

“Betancur expressed murderous ideas, made comments about the conduct of a school shooting and researched mass shootings,” the affidavit states.

During the riot, he posed for a photo with a Confederate battle flag as he stood on the scaffolding outside the Capitol.

In June 2022, a passenger on a Washington-area subway train reported that Betancur harassed other passengers, shouting racial slurs and making racist statements about black people, prosecutors said. They said the biker also reported Betancur holding a folding knife as he left a subway station. Police arrested Betancur but did not arrest him, prosecutors said.

“Betancur has clearly demonstrated an inability to refrain from harassing, hostile, threatening and uncooperative behavior with both law enforcement and the general public,” Fedor wrote.

Defense lawyer Ubong Akpan said Betancur no longer belonged to any extremist groups and should not be punished for his political beliefs.

“He should only be tried for his conduct in this case. He has accepted responsibility and is remorseful for his conduct,” Akpan wrote, asking for a one-month prison sentence for Betancur.

Earlier Wednesday, a man who pleaded guilty to the same riot-related offense as Betancur was sentenced to two months in prison. U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan also sentenced Benjamin Larocca, 28, of Seabrook, Texas, to one year of probation and ordered him to perform 60 hours of community service and pay a $2,000 fine. dollars.

Prosecutors recommended three months imprisonment for Larocca. They said he took videos and photographs that showed his “extreme indifference to the chaos and violence surrounding him” on January 6.

“It should be clear that there are consequences for participating in this violent January 6 riot,” Chutkan said.

(© Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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