July 20, 2024


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Actor Jay Johnston of Bob's Burgers has been indicted in the Jan. 6 Capitol riot.

Actor Jay Johnston, who voiced a pizza restaurant owner on the TV show “Bob’s Burgers” and had roles in “Better Call Saul,” “Arrested Development” and the movie “Anchorman,” pleaded guilty to interfering with police at the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. Johnston admitted he was part of a crowd that pressured officers in the West Terrace tunnel at the height of the uprising, including a widely viewed incident in which a D.C. police officer screamed for help as he was crushed between rioters and a door.

Johnston, 55, pleaded guilty to felony civil disorder at a hearing Monday before U.S. District Judge Carl J. Nichols. The FBI first published In March 2021, The Daily Beast published photos of Johnston and asked for help identifying him, and Johnston’s attorney quickly contacted the office. Johnston was then fired from Bob’s Burgers, but he was not charged until June 2023 as the Justice Department worked to review a backlog of potential cases against thousands of rioters.

Johnston was scheduled to be sentenced on Oct. 7. According to his plea agreement, federal sentencing guidelines call for a sentence of eight to 14 months. But prosecutors said they would seek an increase to 12 to 18 months because of the physical injuries suffered by Officer Daniel Hodges, who suffered a concussion and cuts to his face when rioters ripped off his gas mask and beat him.

A pro-Trump crowd clashed with police inside an entrance to the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, pinning an officer to a door and removing his mask in the process. (Video: Status Coup via Storyful)

“I can’t remember all the different ways I was assaulted,” Hodges testified in one of the lawsuits. Johnston was not charged with assaulting law enforcement, but he acknowledged being part of a mob that used stolen police riot shields to create a “shield wall” and shouted “go ahead” as they repeatedly tried to overwhelm the pile of officers guarding the entrance to the Capitol.

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By early June, more than 1,450 people had been charged with crimes at the Capitol on Jan. 6, according to the Justice Department, and more than 1,040 had pleaded guilty or been convicted at trial. The average sentence for those charged with felonies was about 29 months, according to a Washington Post database, but the average sentence when the primary charge was civil disorder was about eight months.

Court records show Johnston was first captured on camera at 2 p.m. on Jan. 6, standing behind police barricades in the Capitol’s West Plaza, recording the crowd and police on his phone. As rioters removed the barricades, Johnston followed the crowd to the lower West Terrace, entered the tunnel at 3:05 p.m. and was handed the riot shield stolen from police, according to a statement of facts filed in court Monday.

As rioters called for a “shield wall,” Johnston immediately handed the shield to rioters in front of police and joined the mass push that crushed Hodges, according to court documents. Johnston was initially pushed back toward the tunnel entrance, but he made his way back into the tunnel and rejoined the push against officers before leaving at 3:13 p.m.

Johnston was the voice of Jimmy Pesto on Fox's “Bob's Burgers”. He also appeared regularly on “Mr. Show with Bob and David”, an HBO sitcom starring Bob Odenkirk and David Cross, and “The Sarah Silverman Show” on Comedy Central.