Politico

Jan. 6 rioter charged with assaulting Capitol police takes plea deal


One of two men charged with a role in the chemical spraying of a U.S. Capitol Police officer on Jan. 6, 2021, pleaded guilty on Wednesday to illegally entering the restricted area of Capitol grounds.

George Tanios pleaded guilty to two counts: entering and remaining in a restricted building or grounds, and disorderly or disruptive conduct on restricted grounds. As part of Tanios’ deal with the government, prosecutors dropped a handful of other charges against him, including assaulting officers with a deadly weapon.

As rioters crashed through police lines, prosecutors alleged, Tanios passed chemical spray that he had in his backpack to his friend Julian Khater, who then sprayed Capitol Police officers with the chemical agent. Tanios and Khater were arrested in March 2021 and charged with assaulting officer Brian Sicknick — who collapsed later on Jan. 6 and died the next night — as well as two other officers.

A medical examiner ruled in April 2021 that Sicknick suffered two strokes and died of natural causes, though his death has been treated by the department as a line-of-duty death.

Tanios agreed as part of the plea deal that he had bought both bear repellent and pepper spray before arriving in Washington for the “Stop the Steal” rally on Jan. 6, 2021 — when a mob of then-President Donald Trump’s supporters stormed the Capitol in an attempt to halt the counting of Electoral College votes and the certification of President Joe Biden’s win in the 2020 election. Tanios also agreed to having videotaped rioters assaulting police and engaging in that disorderly conduct, and said that Khater had reached into his backpack to retrieve the bear spray.

Sicknick’s name was not mentioned in court while U.S. District Court Judge Thomas Hogan read from the statement of offense, a summary of the conduct for which Tanios accepted responsibility.

Tanios faces up to a year in prison and a $500,000 fine. Hogan set a sentencing date for Tanios on Dec. 6 at 11 a.m.

Tanios and Khater had originally been scheduled to go to trial in June, but Hogan delayed it until October after Khater’s attorney expressed interest in striking a plea deal. Prosecutors said on Wednesday that if Khater pleaded guilty to two different felony counts of assaulting an officer with a dangerous weapon, the government would agree to dismiss all remaining charges and not bring any additional charges. The guidelines for this offense would be 78 to 90 months of incarceration.

Hogan set a status call for Khater on Aug. 24 and said he would keep the October trial date in case a deal wasn’t struck before then.

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