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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of Columbia

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, December 17, 2021

Pennsylvania Man Pleads Guilty to Felony Charge For Obstructing Congress During Jan. 6 Capitol Breach

Defendant Admits to Entering and Remaining in Senate Wing Lobby With Intent to Disrupt Orderly Conduct of Congress

            WASHINGTON – A Pennsylvania man pleaded guilty today to felony and other charges related to the breach of the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 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.

            According to court documents, Matthew Perna, 37, of Sharpsville, Pennsylvania, entered the Capitol at approximately 2:47 p.m. on Jan. 6, going through the Senate Wing door after barriers set up by law enforcement were breached. He remained inside the building for approximately 20 minutes, in the Senate Wing Lobby. While there, he held a cellular device in his right hand and filmed and chanted with the crowd. Later, he posted an eight-minute video to his Facebook account  in which he stated, among other things, “It’s not over, trust me.”

            Perna pleaded guilty in the District of Columbia to an indictment that charged him with obstruction of Congress, a felony, and three related misdemeanor charges.

            Charges remain pending against a co-defendant, Stephen Ayres, 39, of Warren, Ohio.

            Perna was arrested on Jan. 19, 2021, and indicted on Feb. 25, 2021.He is to be sentenced on March 3, 2022. He faces up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine on the felony charge and additional penalties on the misdemeanor offenses. 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 Pennsylvania. The case was investigated by the FBI’s Washington and Pittsburgh Field Offices, with assistance from the U.S. Capitol Police and Washington, D.C. Metropolitan Police Department. The FBI’s Washington Field Office identified Perna as #73 in its seeking information photos.

            In the 11 months since Jan. 6, more than 700 individuals have been arrested in nearly all 50 states for crimes related to the breach of the U.S. Capitol, including over 220 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.

Updated December 17, 2021