Former Capitola police officer “betrayed” oath by warning rioters on January 6 on Facebook posts, prosecutor says

WASHINGTON – A former police officer “betrayed” his oath by warning a fellow Donald Trump supporter who entered the US Capitol on Jan.6 to remove his Facebook content about the attack, a prosecutor said Tuesday. federal to a jury.

Michael Riley, a former Capitol police officer accused last year of two counts of obstruction, warned rioter Jacob Hiles, now convicted, on January 7, 2021, that law enforcement was investigating people involved in the attack on the Capitol.

Riley’s defense team does not dispute that he sent the warnings, but claims that he did not realize the full extent of what Hiles did during the riot and that it was not “reasonably foreseeable” that a federal grand jury was interested in what Hiles had posted on social media.

According to a federal indictment, Riley wrote to Hiles on January 7 saying she agreed with him on political issues and advised him to “eliminate the part about being in the building” because law enforcement was currently “. investigating and all who were in is going to build [get] charged. I’m just looking out! “

After Hiles was charged in mid-January 2021, according to the indictment, the two men talked on the phone for 23 minutes. Afterward, Riley told Hiles that next time he would take him on a tour of the Capitol.

“Next time you want to come to Washington call me, you can stay at my house on the beach for free and take your daughter to the museums. If you want to see the Capitol, do it legally next time … I know a guy who can take you on a tour. .. lol, “Riley wrote in a Facebook message 10 days after the attack on the Capitol.

US Assistant Attorney Mary Dohrmann told jurors on Tuesday that “there was nothing legal or funny about what happened at the Capitol on January 6.” Dohrmann said that Riley later “made up a cover story” to explain the timeline of her messages, which she later deleted.

“The defendant never wanted these Facebook messages to see the light,” Dohrmann said. “He swore to abide by the law and instead hindered it.”

Defense attorney Christopher Macchiaroli told jurors that Riley “never intended to obstruct a grand jury” and that he was a 25-year veteran of the Capitol Police who had helped respond to the bomb tubes found near the Capitol on the 6th. January.

Riley “pursued justice, he did not obstruct justice,” Macchiaroli said, calling the case “complex”.

Macchiaroli went on to say that on the same day Riley spoke to Hiles, he said there were “direct acts of terrorism” that took place on January 6, hours after he helped sweep the Capitol in search of bombs as part of his. role in the K-9 unit. Riley wanted people to be held accountable for their actions, Macchiaroli said, but he didn’t believe based on what he knew at the time that Hiles had done anything other than document the situation.

“He was duped” by Hiles, Macchiaroli said.

“He made a mistake, he made a mistake in judgment,” Macchiaroli added, arguing that Riley did not intend to stand in the way of a federal grand jury.

Hiles should testify in the case. Under a plea deal with the government, he pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge and was sentenced to two years of probation, along with 60 hours of community service and $ 500 in restitution.

The opening arguments for Riley’s trial began on Tuesday. Prosecutors anticipated their case could take three days, and the defense said their presentation could also take three days.

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