Bob’s Burgers actor Jay Johnston pleads guilty over role in Capitol attack

<span>Police video shows Jay Johnston, circled in yellow, on 6 January 2021.</span><span>Photograph: AP</span>
Police video shows Jay Johnston, circled in yellow, on 6 January 2021.Photograph: AP

Jay Johnston, an actor best known for his role on the animated comedy show Bob’s Burgers, has pleaded guilty to charges related to his role in the storming of the US Capitol in January 2021.

Johnston, 54, faces a maximum of five years in prison and pleaded guilty to a felony count of civil disorder. He was released on a $25,000 bond in June 2023 after an initial court appearance in California.

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Johnston was also charged with felony obstruction of officers during civil disorder, unlawful entry on restricted buildings or grounds, and impeding passage through Capitol grounds.

Documents filed in court allege Johnston joined a mob of protesters attacking police. A video from the incident showed the actor take a shield from an officer and use it to push back law enforcement officers defending the Capitol.

Johnston “was close to the entrance to the tunnel, turned back and signaled for other rioters to come towards the entrance”, the charging documents stated. He also acknowledged his role in the Capitol riot, sending a text message that stated it “wasn’t” an attack but that it “kind of turned into that”.

“It was a mess,” another message said.

Three current or former associates of Johnston identified him as a suspect from photos the FBI published online, according to the agent. The FBI said one of those associates provided investigators with the text message in which Johnston acknowledged being at the Capitol on January 6.

Airline records also proved Johnston booked a round-trip flight from Los Angeles to Washington DC, leaving on 4 January 2021 and returning on 7 January, according to FBI filings.

In addition to Bob’s Burgers, Johnston has appeared on HBO’s Mr Show with Bob and David and held smaller roles on the Fox sitcom Arrested Development. US district judge Carl Nichols is set to sentence Johnston on 7 October.

Also on Monday, a Texas woman pleaded guilty to assaulting a Metropolitan police department officer during the Capitol attack. Video captured Dana Jean Bell cursing at officers inside the Capitol and grabbing an officer’s baton, according to an FBI agent’s affidavit.

Bell, 65, of Princeton, Texas, also was shown on video assaulting a local television journalist outside the Capitol that day. The FBI affidavit says Bell appeared to reach out and try to push or grab the journalist, who worked for the Fox affiliate in Washington DC.

Bell faces a maximum sentence of eight years in prison. US district judge Timothy Kelly is scheduled to sentence her on 17 October. Her estimated sentencing guidelines recommend a term of imprisonment of between two and two and a half years.

Approximately 1,000 people have been convicted of or pleaded guilty to federal crimes related to the Capitol riot, according to the Associated Press, with more than half of those sentenced getting terms of imprisonment ranging from seven days to 18 years.