Ray Epps, the person on the middle of a right-wing conspiracy concept that the federal authorities instigated the occasions of Jan. 6, 2021, was charged on Tuesday with a single rely of disorderly conduct for his position in the assault on the Capitol.
In a bare-bones charging doc filed in Federal District Court in Washington, prosecutors accused Mr. Epps of disrupting the orderly conduct of authorities enterprise by coming into a restricted space on the Capitol grounds on Jan. 6. Mr. Epps’s lawyer, Edward J. Ungvarsky, stated the case had been introduced in “anticipation of entry of a guilty plea.”
The saga of Mr. Epps, a former Marine and wedding ceremony venue proprietor who voted twice for Donald J. Trump, is one of the stranger tales to have emerged from the Capitol assault. In the months after the riot, he discovered himself the goal of baseless allegations that he was a undercover agent of the federal authorities who had helped to foment the violence on the Capitol as a method to discredit Mr. Trump and his supporters.
The conspiracy concept was broadly promoted by the previous Fox News host Tucker Carlson and was later echoed by a number of distinguished Republican politicians. Mr. Epps, who offered his dwelling and enterprise in Arizona and has since gone into hiding along with his spouse in a trailer park in Utah, sued Fox News in July, accusing the community of defamation.
From the beginning, the assaults on Mr. Epps have been largely based mostly on the truth that he was by no means charged with any crimes, despite the fact that he was captured on video on the night time earlier than the riot encouraging folks to enter the Capitol. He was additionally seen on Jan. 6 pointing others towards the constructing after which coming into a restricted space of the Capitol grounds.
Those who promoted the conspiracy concept made the unfounded leap that as a result of Mr. Epps had prevented prosecution for greater than two years, he needed to have been a federal asset below the safety of the federal government. The fees filed on Tuesday by prosecutors in Washington undercut that assertion.
With the fees, Mr. Epps grew to become one of solely a handful of folks in the mob who by no means entered the Capitol to have been prosecuted. While movies from Jan. 6 clearly depict him as being in the primary wave of rioters to maneuver previous a police barricade exterior the constructing, footage from later in the day exhibits him making an attempt to calm the gang round him and de-escalate tensions with the police.
It stays unclear why the Justice Department determined to cost Mr. Epps now, greater than two and a half years after the Capitol assault. The charging doc used in opposition to him, generally known as a felony info, was filed after he introduced his go well with in opposition to Fox News, making certain his story would stay in the general public eye for months, if not years. It additionally got here after he determined to struggle again in opposition to the conspiracy concept in the media, granting interviews to each The New York Times and 60 Minutes.
Still, Mr. Epps is hardly the one rioter to have waited years earlier than being charged. The Justice Department continues to file Jan. 6 instances virtually every day and will in the end deliver fees in opposition to a number of hundred extra defendants.