Well over two years after playing arguably one of the central roles in the January 6 invasion of the Capitol, the establishment hit Ray Epps with a small misdemeanor charge earlier this week. The charge, filed Monday, carries a maximum of up to one year in prison, but only up to six months in prison per federal sentencing guidelines.
Epps accepted the punishment without any apparent resistance; he pleaded guilty to disorderly or disruptive conduct in a restricted building or grounds: 18 U.S.C. § 1752(a)(2). Epps appeared in a virtual hearing with District Court of Columbia Chief Judge James Boasberg on Wednesday. His sentencing is scheduled for Dec. 20.
In numerous videos on Jan. 5 and Jan. 6, 2021, Epps is seen encouraging protestors to breach the Capitol and then, as part of a crowd pushing against the gates surrounding the Capitol, breached the grounds himself.
On Jan. 8, the FBI posted Epps’ picture on their Most Wanted list. Epps later told the January 6 Committee in a November 2020 interview that he called the FBI over his inclusion on the list. Following that call and a follow-up interview in person with the FBI that March, the FBI dropped his name from the list and reportedly cleared him of wrongdoing. That is, until this past week.
Epps served as president of the Arizona chapter of the Oath Keepers for several years, a militia organization largely opposed to the federal government.
Representative Paul Gosar asked Attorney General Merrick Garland to turn over all materials related to Epps to the House almost a year ago to date.
The punishment Epps may face pales in comparison to that of others who arguably played a lesser role in that fateful day. One of the most recent to be punished, Ryan Zink, was found guilty on several charges totaling around 20 years.
It appears that the DOJ’s slap to Epps’ wrist comes as an afterthought prompted by the widespread attention to his guilt initiated by inquiries from Republican Representative Thomas Massie and an investigation from Revolver News. Details of Epps’ involvement and the lack of DOJ interest to charge Epps caused many to believe that Epps was part of a “false flag” operation set up by the FBI. Both the agency and Epps have denied it, characterizing the idea as a conspiracy theory.
Epps sued Fox News for defamation in July over the claims promulgated by their top former host, Tucker Carlson.
The DOJ charge against Epps was a misdemeanor, he was charged on information and his case won’t go before a grand jury. That also means there’s the possibility of a plea deal.
A search for Epps’ name on the DOJ’s Capitol Breach Cases page, which totals 1,152 people charged, yields no results as of this report. The DOJ also provides a running list of all sentences handed down in Capitol Breach Cases.
Over 800 have been convicted, with over 600 sentenced and over 100 awaiting their sentencing. Over 300 cases remain pending. Incarceration has ranged from 10 days to 22 years.