The New Hampshire man who nicked a bottle of wine from what he thought was a lawmaker’s office on Jan. 6—and later went on TV to brag about it—has pleaded guilty to theft of federal property.
Jason Riddle admitted before U.S. District Judge Dabney Friedrich, a Donald Trump appointee, that he stole government property while inside the Capitol building on Jan. 6, when scores of Trump supporters breached police lines in an effort to stop Congress from certifying the results of the 2020 presidential election.
Riddle appeared remotely in federal court via video Thursday to plead guilty to the theft count and a count of parading, demonstrating, or picketing in a federal building.
According to the complaint, federal investigators first learned about Riddle after tipsters flagged his interview on Boston NBC affiliate WBTS.
“During the two minute and forty-two seconds video produced by NBC10 Boston, Riddle describes his observation of what other rioters were doing inside the U.S. Capitol by stating, ‘They were smashing computers, and printers, and breaking things, and throwing papers and lamps around,'” the complaint said. “When asked by the reporter, ‘Why did you go in?’ Riddle responded, ‘I just, I just had to see it.’ When asked if Riddle regretted it, Riddle responded, ‘No.'”
According to the complaint, the interview also included a picture of Riddle that showed him “holding a bottle of wine while standing inside the U.S. Capitol … According to the reporter who spoke with him, Riddle stated that he took the videos himself,” the complaint said. “Riddle also apparently provided NBC10 News with a photograph of himself inside a lawmaker’s office, holding a bottle wine he stole.”
In an interview with investigators, Riddle admitted that while inside the Capitol building, he “walked into an office and found an open bottle of wine on or in a refrigerator and poured himself a glass. Riddle then admitted to drinking the wine and then leaving the office after being told to do so by a police officer.”
According to the complaint, a subsequent interview with a federal employee confirmed that the picture Riddle took of himself with the wine “was taken from a spot near the refrigerator that housed wine in the Office of the Senate Parliamentarian.”
Riddle also told investigators that he took a book from the office where he drank the wine.
“Riddle explained he took the book from a desk, believed it was titled something to the effect of ‘Senate Chambers’ and described it as old looking, bound in reddish-brown leather, and it was ‘like a dictionary,'” the complaint said. “Riddle stated that, shortly after he exited the Capitol, he sold the book to an unknown male individual for $40.”
Riddle left the building with one more item, according to the complaint.
“Riddle also admitted that he stole a small Fox News football from the same office, but tossed it aside as he exited the Capitol building,” the complaint said.
It doesn’t appear that facing federal criminal charges for breaching the Capitol has slowed down Riddle. He announced in June that he plans to run for Congress, hoping to unseat Ann L. McLane Kuster, a Democrat who has represented his district in the House of Representatives since 2013.
Riddle said that he thinks being linked to the Jan. 6 attempted insurrection will help his campaign.
“In the long run, if you’re running for office, any attention is good attention, so I think it will help me,” Riddle said. “It tells them I show up,” he said, adding, “I’m going to actually keep my promises and make some changes.”
Riddle’s plea hearing hit a brief snag at the start on Thursday, when it appeared that the parties had different versions of the plea agreement. It was only a minor hiccup though, as the hearing resumed less than two hours later after the government and the defense sorted it out.
Riddle’s sentencing is set for Feb. 17.
You can read the complaint against Riddle below.
[Image via Department of Justice filing]
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