North Carolina Man Pleads Guilty to Felony Charge For Offenses Committed During Jan. 6 Capitol Breach
Defendant Encouraged Rioters to Battle Law Enforcement Officers
WASHINGTON – A North Carolina man pleaded guilty today to a felony charge related to his actions during the breach of the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, which disrupted a joint session of the U.S. Congress that was in the process of ascertaining and counting the electoral votes related to the presidential election.
Lewis Easton Cantwell, 36, of Waynesville, North Carolina, pleaded guilty in the District of Columbia to obstructing, impeding, or interfering with law enforcement officers during the commission of civil disorder. According to court documents, on Jan. 6, Cantwell joined other rioters at the front of one of the entrances into the Capitol and used his cellphone to make several video recordings of individuals battling with law enforcement officers. During one of the recordings, he yelled for rioters to “get the door open.” At another point, he yelled that they needed “fresh patriots to the front.”
Cantwell was arrested on Feb. 18, 2021, in Asheville, North Carolina. He is to be sentenced on Sept. 22, 2022. He faces up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
The case is being 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 North Carolina.
The case is being investigated by the FBI Charlotte Field Office’s Asheville Resident Agency and the FBI’s Washington Field Office, which identified Cantwell as #143 on its seeking information photos. Valuable assistance was provided by the U.S. Capitol Police and the Metropolitan Police Department.
In the 14 months since Jan. 6, more than 775 individuals have been arrested in nearly all 50 states for crimes related to the breach of the U.S. Capitol, including over 245 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.