Federal prosecutors are preparing to charge a 22-year-old woman with felony theft for allegedly taking a laptop from Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office, and they’re urging a Harrisburg-area judge to deny her bail.
Riley June Williams — who was already facing misdemeanor charges for her presence in the Capitol during the Jan. 6 attacks, while insurrectionists and rioters swarmed the building — was arrested Monday after first fleeing police. The initial evidence against her included witness testimony suggesting Riley had told friends she planned to sell Pelosi’s laptop to Russian intelligence.
But the first batch of charges did not include the theft, which the FBI indicated remains under investigation.
By elevating the case against Williams, prosecutors are indicating they believe she is the culprit behind the theft of a laptop from Pelosi’s office, despite conflicting indications from other rioters and social media posts. Aides to Pelosi say the laptop was only used for presentations.
The impending new charges are an indication of the fast-moving efforts by prosecutors to build on some of the quick initial charges they lodged against Capitol rioters. FBI and Justice Department officials indicated they mounted quick cases to round up some of the insurrectionists and participants in the riots and intended to add more serious charges over time.
A hearing on whether Williams should be detained while awaiting trial is scheduled for Thursday. Williams’ attorney Lori Ulrich protested the delay, noting that her client has remained in jail since Monday.
According to the initial case against Williams, a former romantic partner who spoke to authorities claimed to have seen a video of Williams “taking a laptop computer or hard drive from Speaker Pelosi’s office.”
“[Witness 1] stated that WILLIAMS intended to send the computer device to a friend in Russia, who then planned to sell the device to SVR, Russia’s foreign intelligence service,” the agent noted. “According to [Witness 1], the transfer of the computer device to Russia fell through for unknown reasons and WILLIAMS still has the computer device or destroyed it.”
“This matter remains under investigation,” the agent concluded.
For now, Williams is facing charges of entering a restricted building and disorderly conduct for her actions inside the Capitol.
The agent handling Williams’ case also spoke to law enforcement officials in Harrisburg who had recently interacted with Williams’ parents. Williams’ mother on Jan. 11 filed a suspicious persons report against the person the FBI has identified as “Witness 1.” That witness is described as a former romantic partner of the suspect.
While local officers were present, Williams’ mother called her via video, and officers saw her wearing a brown jacket that matched the one she was seen wearing in images from the Jan. 6 riots. Harrisburg officers also spoke with Williams’ father, who said he drove with her to Washington for the protests but that they split up for the day while she joined other friends.
The pair drove home from Washington after meeting outside the Capitol.