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Focus of January 6 conspiracy theories charged with misdemeanor related to Capitol riot

<i>Kent Nishimura/Los Angeles Times/Getty Images</i><br/>Ray Epps
Kent Nishimura/Los Angeles Times/Getty Images
Ray Epps

By Hannah Rabinowitz, CNN

(CNN) — Ray Epps, who became the focus of right-wing conspiracy theories that law enforcement coerced Trump supporters into storming the US Capitol on January 6, 2021, has been charged with a single misdemeanor related to the riot.

Federal prosecutors filed the charge – disorderly or disruptive conduct on restricted grounds – against Epps on Monday morning, court records show.

Epps is expected to plead guilty at a hearing Wednesday afternoon.

The case was “filed with an anticipation of entry of a guilty plea to the charge,” Epps’ lawyer, Edward Ungvarsky, said in a statement to CNN.

In the aftermath of the riot, some members of the media, lawmakers, and supporters of the former president baselessly suggested that the Capitol assault was “false flag” operation staged by the federal government to make supporters of then-President Donald Trump look bad.

As part of the unfounded theory, right-wing figures pointed to video footage of Epps in Washington, DC, encouraging people to attack the Capitol, and the fact that Epps’ photo was on an early FBI “most wanted” list but was later removed, as evidence that Epps was part of a secret FBI plot to orchestrate the attack.

Epps reportedly sold his business amid fears for his safety and fled his home in Arizona.

Epps has forcefully denied any allegation that he incited the riot, telling the House select committee investigating January 6 in a closed-door interview that he has no ties to the FBI or law enforcement. Epps was also interviewed by the FBI in the months after the riot.

He also filed a defamation lawsuit against Fox News and former host Tucker Carlson, saying that “Fox News searched for a scapegoat to blame other than Donald Trump or the Republican Party” and “eventually, they turned on one of their own.” Fox News and Carlson are fighting the case in court.

Some other January 6 criminal defendants have even pointed the finger at Epps during their own trials, though prosecutors have repeatedly rejected the theory that Epps is affiliated with law enforcement, saying again and again that rioters were not tricked by law enforcement officers into entering the Capitol.

This story has been updated with additional developments.

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Article Topic Follows: CNN - US Politics

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