A Gallatin man charged in connection with the deadly Jan. 6 U.S. Capitol riot pleaded guilty in federal court Thursday to his role in the insurrection. 

Jack Jesse Griffith, 26, admitted to knowingly entering restricted areas of the Capitol in a videoconference plea hearing before U.S. District Chief Judge Beryl Howell, of the District of Columbia.

Griffith, born in Killeen, Texas, pleaded guilty to one misdemeanor count of parading, demonstrating or picketing in a Capitol building. On top of a possible six months in jail, he faces a $5,000 fine and potential supervised release. He also agreed to pay $500 in restitution to the United States. 

As a result of a plea agreement, the government dismissed four other misdemeanor charges he faced Thursday in connection with the attack.

He is slated to be sentenced, via videoconference from Washington, on Oct. 15.

Griffith was charged with several misdemeanors in common with many other Capitol riot defendants, including entering restricted grounds, disorderly and disruptive conduct and parading, and demonstrating or picketing in a Capitol building. 

Also known online as Juan Bibiano, Griffith was captured on video participating in the riot and arrested Jan. 16 at a Gallatin residence. 

Prior to entering his plea Thursday, the judge asked Griffith about his alias, to which he replied that Bibiano was a family name on his mother’s side.

“Juan was just a nickname, and I put that together,” Griffith told the judge.

When asked about his education level, Griffith told the judge he studied audio production at Penn State University for two years.

During Thursday’s hearing, Griffith admitted to the judge he traveled from Tennessee to Washington with intent to attend a rally and then walked onto restricted grounds of the Capitol building. He said he spent time in the crowd watching crowd members attack Capitol police, but nonetheless entered the building knowing the doors were broken.

He admitted he wandered into the Capitol crypt, a large, columned circular room directly beneath the rotunda.

He also admitted that he posted on Facebook he helped stormed the building and that he talked to a Fox News crew about his entry in the Capitol.

“Mr. Griffith has been under a lot of stress,” said his attorney H. Heather Shaner, who noted her client was cooperative with police by turning his cell phone over to them. “He wants to do every thing he can to cooperate… moving forward with this matter.”

Other arrests in Capitol riot: Tennessee man pleads guilty to minor protesting charge in U.S. Capitol riot case

‘He screamed in excitement’

Griffith was identified in a video in which FBI investigators said he screamed in excitement while an alarm was heard ringing in the background. He was charged alongside three others whose cases continue: Matthew Bledsoe, Eric Chase Torrens and Blake Austen Reed. 

FBI agents arrested Bledsoe, of Memphis, on Jan. 15. He faces an additional felony obstruction charge on top of similar misdemeanor allegations. 

Torrens was arrested later, after a tipster thought they recognized him in media coverage of Griffith’s arrest and reached out to the FBI. 

A video shows Bledsoe and his companions immediately outside an exterior door of the Capitol with an alarm blaring in the background, investigators believe. 

One person, wearing a fleece-lined white and gray hat says, “We’re going in!” He was later identified by the FBI as Torrens. 

The camera pans to show a man, later determined to be Griffith, in clear glasses, a red baseball hat, and a blue jacket who screams in excitement.

“The video compilation ends with another video clip captured by a person out of view of the camera where the crowd is chanting, Stop the steal! Stop the steal! as they march through the halls of the Capitol,” according to court records.

Griffith was identified by an informant from pictures and social media posts related to the riot under the Bibiano name, according to the Department of Justice’s statement of facts.

One post included a message from Bibiano: “I even helped stormed [sic] the capitol today, but it only made things worse.”

Law enforcement was also able to see a permalink connected to Griffith’s accounts in a Google search stating, “All going to D.C. The cavalry is coming,” according to the statement of facts.

Reach reporter Mariah Timms at [email protected] or 615-259-8344 and on Twitter @MariahTimms

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