The Ohio man who joined the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol while wearing a jacket bearing the name and phone number of his business has pleaded guilty to destroying government property.
Troy Elbert Faulkner, 41, admitted to kicking in a window at the Capitol building as Donald Trump supporters, angry over the results of the 2020 election, swarmed Capitol grounds. Video showed Faulkner jumping on a ledge and striking the window pane with his foot, eventually breaking through to the interior of the building.
Faulkner was also seen wearing a tan jacket with black lettering spelling out “Faulkner Painting.” The company’s phone number was below.
While Faulkner’s own sartorial decisions that day made him easy to identify, he had actually made it even easier for law enforcement to track him down: about a week after the Capitol attack, he called the feds and turned himself in.
“Did you then in fact call the FBI hotline on Jan. 13, 2021, to identify yourself and admit that you kicked in the window at the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021?” Chief U.S. District Judge Beryl Howell asked Faulkner at his plea agreement hearing on Friday.
“Yes, I did,” the defendant replied.
In a story published on Jan. 14, 2021, Faulkner also told the local Columbus Patch website that he regretted what he did.
“It seemed the cops were antagonizing us and letting them straight into the building in the front so I believe it was all set up for the Trump people,” he said. “I knew I shouldn’t have kicked in the window. I was upset and wasn’t thinking rationally.”
“I don’t glorify what I did, nor am I proud of it,” he added.
Faulkner also told the outlet that he had been “shot in the chest by police” and that “shrapnel hit [his] face.”
The Architect of the Capitol has estimated that it will cost $10,560 to repair the window. Although the plea agreement, signed by Faulkner, calls for him to pay that amount in restitution, Faulkner’s lawyer, John Machado, told Howell that he planned to introduce evidence that Faulkner shouldn’t be on the hook for the entire amount because another protester was reportedly seen kicking at the window as well.
Howell signaled that she was not likely to be convinced.
“I have seen the videotape,” the judge said. “It was Mr. Faulkner’s foot that went through that pane of [wood or glass]. It was his foot that succeeded in breaking through into the building. There is another person in the video tape who tried, unsuccessfully, [but] it was Mr. Faulkner who was successful in getting his foot through the pane of wood.”
Howell also confirmed with Faulkner directly that he had signed an agreement that he would pay the full amount.
“Mr. Faulkner, you signed this plea agreement,” Howell said. “You can read. Do you understand that you have agreed, pursuant to this plea agreement, to pay restitution to the Architect of the Capitol in the amount of $10,560?”
“Yes, ma’am,” Faulkner replied.
Faulkner, who had allegedly said in a social media exchange that the rioters “weren’t fighting against antifa [sic] we’re fighting against the government,” had high praise for Machado, his government-appointed lawyer.
“Yes, Your Honor,” he replied when Howell asked him if he was satisfied with Machado’s representation, enthusiastically adding that it was better than he expected.
Machado was appointed to represent Faulkner under the Criminal Justice Act, a federal law that ensures legal representation to criminal defendants by reimbursing lawyers who represent them.
He was similarly effusive when asked if the Statement of Offense, which sets out the facts that form the basis of his guilty plea, was accurate.
“Surprisingly, yes,” Faulkner said. “I’m happy with the decision that was made.”
In addition to destruction of property, which in Faulkner’s case rose to the felony level because the damage was estimated at more than $1,000, the defendant was charged with obstruction of Congress, punishable by up to 20 years in prison, along with a handful of trespassing and disorderly conduct misdemeanors. Those other charges will be dismissed at his sentencing hearing.
Howell agreed to remove Faulkner’s GPS monitoring until sentencing, crediting him for turning himself in.
“Although he was wearing a jacket with his name and phone number on it on Jan. 6, so he would not have been that difficult to find,” the judge noted.
Faulkner will be sentenced on Oct. 14.
[Images via FBI court filings.]
Have a tip we should know? [email protected]