WASHINGTON – A Kentucky man pleaded guilty today to two felony charges for his actions during the breach of the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. His actions and the actions of others disrupted a joint session of the U.S. Congress convened to ascertain and count the electoral votes related to the 2020 presidential election.
Joseph Howe, 41, of Magnolia, Kentucky, pleaded guilty in the District of Columbia to obstruction of an official proceeding and assaulting, resisting, or impeding law enforcement officers. Howe is scheduled to be sentenced on Oct. 20, 2023.
According to court documents, Howe, who was outfitted with a plate carrier vest, goggles, and a respirator mask, marched with a group to the Capitol building and announced to a man with a video camera, "We're getting in that building." When the man disagreed, Howe repeated, "We're getting in."
Wearing goggles and a gas mask, Howe entered under the scaffolding that covered the Capitol’s Northwest staircase and encountered a group of rioters confronting a line of police officers. Court documents say that Howe grabbed a riot shield from the hands of a U.S. Capitol police officer. Members of the mob then attacked the officer leaving him with a concussion and head trauma that required treatment at a hospital.
Howe continued up the stairs in possession of a police baton. Making his way toward the front of the crowd, he grabbed a bike rack barrier away from a line of police and helped to pass it back to the mob. Howe and the other rioters broke through additional phalanxes of officers and were among the first rioters to reach the Upper West Terrace and the Senate Wing Door. Howe forcefully kicked at the door. Rioters who were already inside opened the door. Passing through the Crypt to the Memorial Door, Howe removed his respirator mask and camouflage jacket, revealing his tactical armored vest. Joining with a crowd of rioters, Howe pushed through a small makeshift line of officers, grabbed a fire extinguisher, and fired it toward a group of police, hitting one of them directly in the eyes with the chemical agent.
Howe was arrested on Oct. 28, 2022, in Kentucky.
A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
This case was prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia and the Department of Justice National Security Division’s Counterterrorism Section. Valuable assistance was provided by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Kentucky.
The case was investigated by the FBI’s Washington and Louisville Field Offices. Valuable assistance was provided by the U.S. Capitol Police and the Metropolitan Police Department.
In the 30 months since Jan. 6, 2021, more than 1,060 individuals have been arrested in nearly all 50 states for crimes related to the breach of the U.S. Capitol, including more than 350 individuals charged with assaulting or impeding law enforcement. The investigation remains ongoing.
Anyone with tips can call 1-800-CALL-FBI (800-225-5324) or visit tips.fbi.gov.