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Ray Epps Awaits Sentencing, Denies Undercover Agent Allegations in Capitol Riot

Federal prosecutors have recommended a six-month prison term for Ray Epps, a key figure in a right-wing conspiracy theory surrounding the January 6, 2021, Capitol riot. Epps, who has admitted to participating in the attack, is set to be sentenced next Tuesday.

Guilty Plea to Disorderly Conduct

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In September, Epps, a former Trump supporter from Arizona, pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of disorderly conduct on restricted grounds as part of the Capitol riot.

Epps Denies Conspiracy Allegations

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Epps, a former Marine Corps infantryman turned roofer, has vehemently denied being an undercover government agent inciting the Capitol attack. Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Gordon clarified during Epps’ plea hearing that he was not a confidential source for any law enforcement agency.

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Fox News Defamation Lawsuit

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Epps filed a defamation  against Fox News, accusing the network of spreading baseless claims that he was an undercover government agent. The false conspiracy theory led to death threats and forced Epps to go into hiding, sell his business, and move to a different state.

Social Media Videos as Evidence

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Widely shared videos on social media and right-wing websites captured Epps urging others to go to the Capitol “peacefully” the day before the riot. On January 6, he was recorded saying, “As soon as the president is done speaking, we go to the Capitol,” although he claims to have left when people started breaching the Capitol’s walls.

Collective Aggressive Conduct

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Prosecutors argue that even though Epps did not physically enter the Capitol, his participation in a “rugby scrum-like group effort” to push past police constitutes collective aggressive conduct. They emphasize that Epps engaged in actions that contributed to the chaos.

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Turned Himself In to the FBI

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Despite his role in the Capitol riot, Epps turned himself in to the FBI two days after the attack, demonstrating a level of cooperation with law enforcement. This stands in contrast to the false conspiracy theory claiming he was working undercover for the FBI.

Harm to Epps and Prosecution

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The false conspiracy theory not only harmed Epps personally but also sought to undermine the integrity of the federal prosecution. Prosecutors highlighted the detrimental impact on Epps, who was forced to sell his business, relocate, and live in seclusion due to the unfounded allegations.

Misguided Belief in Election Fraud

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Prosecutors attribute Epps’ actions to his misguided belief in the baseless claim that the 2020 presidential election was “stolen.” Despite acting in continuance of this belief, Epps faced legal consequences for his involvement in the Capitol riot.

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Oath Keepers Affiliation

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Before the Capitol attack, Epps served as an Arizona chapter leader for the Oath Keepers, an anti-government extremist group. He parted ways with the organization a few years before January 6, distancing himself from the group’s seditious conspiracy related to the transfer of power.

Oath Keepers Founder Convicted

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Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes, along with other members, was convicted of seditious conspiracy in the January 6 attack. Rhodes received an 18-year prison sentence in May, emphasizing the serious legal repercussions for those involved in the planning and execution of the Capitol riot.

Extensive Legal Fallout

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The Capitol riot has led to over 1,200 defendants being charged with federal crimes related to the attack. More than 900 individuals have pleaded guilty or been convicted after trials, showcasing the extensive legal fallout and accountability for those involved in the assault on the U.S. Capitol.

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