A U.S. Capitol rioter who boasted about attacking CNN reporters and destroying “tens of thousands of dollars” in the network’s TV equipment and cameras pleaded guilty to two felonies in federal court on Friday.
The first, obstructing an official proceeding, carries a 20-year maximum sentence. The second, destroying property, has a 5-year cap.
Though a 25-year sentence is theoretically possible, his plea agreement calculates his sentencing guidelines range between 27 and 33 months — or more than two to less than three years behind bars. He also faces a possible $250,000 fine per felony, though that penalty is likely to be lower because he’s been declared indigent.
Months after being charged in connection with the Jan. 6th attack, Virginia man Joshua Dillon Haynes racked up other felony charges in state court for abusing a family member. Charges in that domestic violence case included malicious bodily injury, strangling and multiple misdemeanor charges.
Prosecutors say that Haynes’ predilection for violence was also on display on Jan. 6, when he allegedly “picked up and slammed down multiple pieces of equipment that belonged to media outlets.”
After an unidentified associate told Haynes that he shouldn’t “be like antifa tearing stuff up,” the Virginia man replied “ahhhh tooooo late,” “broke lotsa stuff,” and “lol,” according to court papers.
After U.S. District Judge Tanya S. Chutkan asked the defendant whether he wrote those messages, Haines replied somberly: “Yes, ma’am.” He also agreed with the government that he removed an air conditioning unit from the Capitol and dropped it onto the ground.
Prosecutors say that Haynes forwarded a picture of himself committing the crime and admitting to other ones.
“We attacked the CNN reporters and the fake news and destroyed tens of thousands of dollars of their video and television equipment,” Haynes allegedly wrote, adding: “here’s a picture behind me of the pile we made out of it.”
Prosecutors indicate that Haynes’s estimate was accurate.
“One member of the media who was forced to flee the scene estimated that the equipment from his particular news organization that was destroyed was valued at between $30,000 and $34,000,” the FBI’s affidavit supporting Haynes’s charges says.
Court papers continue quoting Haynes gloating to an associate: “They had to run away from us and leave all their equipment so we destroyed it.”
“i Kicked the fake news ass,” he added, with idiosyncratic punctuation.
Haynes also took selfies of himself inside the U.S. Capitol, including inside a senator’s office. Again, prosecutors say, he bragged about his exploits with photographic evidence.
“We are inside the Congress the Senate we stormed inside,” he texted an associate.
After the FBI disseminated his photographs tagged with “AOM” — short for “assault on media” — Haynes allegedly told one of his associates “erase immediately” and “aom = assault on media.”
Though Haynes denied being a member of the Proud Boys to law enforcement, the FBI says that he attended one of the group’s meetings in Fredericksburg, Va., in late 2020 — and had dinner with its members.
Haynes’ guilty plea today is likely to add up to his already-significant jeopardy on the domestic abuse-related counts.
State records indicate that Haynes pleaded nolo contendere to multiple felonies and was also convicted on misdemeanors, adding up to a more than 10-year suspended sentence, according to court records. Latin for “no contest,” nolo contendore pleas have the effect of a guilty plea without a formal admission of the underlying crimes. A suspended sentence allows a defendant to serve a period of probation, after which the term is often considered fulfilled if there are no more violations.
Those offenses, however, sparked another consequence for Haynes. Prosecutors used them to argue successfully for his pre-trial detention. Haynes arrived in court wearing an orange jumpsuit.
Judge Chutkan, a Barack Obama appointee, set a sentencing date for Jan. 31, 2023.
Have a tip we should know? [email protected]