Jay Johnston Pleads Guilty to Interfering With Police During Capitol Riot 5

An actor who played a street-brawling newsman in the movie Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy and a pizzeria owner in the television series Bob’s Burgers pleaded guilty on Monday to interfering with police officers trying to protect the U.S. Capitol from a mob’s attack.

Jay Johnston, 55, of Los Angeles, faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison after pleading guilty to civil disorder, a felony. U.S. District Judge Carl Nichols is scheduled to sentence Johnston on Oct. 7.

The estimated sentencing guidelines for Johnston recommend a prison term ranging from eight to 14 months, but the judge isn’t bound by that term of his plea agreement with prosecutors.

Johnston’s attorney, Stanley Woodward, told his client not to comment to reporters as they left the courtroom.

Johnston, who was arrested last June, is one of more than 1,400 people charged with federal crimes stemming from the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol.

Video footage captured Johnston pushing against police and helping rioters who attacked officers guarding an entrance to the Capitol in a tunnel on the Lower West Terrace, according to an FBI agent’s affidavit. Johnston held a stolen police shield over his head and passed it to other rioters during the attack on Jan. 6, 2021, the affidavit says.

Johnston “was close to the entrance to the tunnel, turned back and signaled for other rioters to come towards the entrance,” the agent wrote.

Johnston was the voice of the character Jimmy Pesto on Fox’s Bob’s BurgersThe Daily Beast reported in 2021 that Johnston was “banned” from the animated show after the Capitol attack.

Johnston appeared on Mr. Show with Bob and David, an HBO sketch comedy series that starred Bob Odenkirk and David Cross. His credits also include small parts on the television show “Arrested Development” and in the movie “Anchorman,” starring Will Ferrell.

A court filing accompanying Johnston’s plea agreement says he used his cellphone to record rioters as they broke through barricades and sent police officers retreating. Facing the crowd on the Lower West Terrace, Johnston pounded his fist together and pointed. Another rioter handed him a bottle of water, which he used to help others flush out chemicals from their eyes.

After passing the stolen shield, Johnson joined other rioters in collectively pushing against police officers guarding the tunnel entrance. He left the tunnel minutes later, according to the agreement signed by Johnston.

Three current or former associates of Johnston identified him as a riot suspect from photos that the FBI published online, according to the agent. The FBI said one of those associates provided investigators with a text message in which Johnston acknowledged being at the Capitol on Jan. 6.

“The news has presented it as an attack. It actually wasn’t. Thought it kind of turned into that. It was a mess. Got maced and tear gassed and I found it quite untastic,” Johnston wrote, according to the FBI.

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