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Justice News

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

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Virginia Man Pleads Guilty To Weapons Offenses Stemming From July 4th Incident At Freedom Plaza-Defendant Brandished Shotgun In Video Filmed At The Site-

     WASHINGTON – Adam Kokesh, 31, of Herndon, Va., pled guilty today to weapons offenses stemming from an incident on July 4, 2013 in which he held a pump-action shotgun while at Freedom Plaza, U.S. Attorney Ronald C. Machen Jr. announced.

     Kokesh pled guilty in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia to charges of carrying a rifle or shotgun, possession of an unregistered firearm, and unlawful possession of ammunition. In a separate case, he pled guilty to a charge of possession of marijuana. The Honorable Patricia A. Broderick scheduled sentencing for Jan. 17, 2014.

     The maximum penalty for carrying a rifle or shotgun is five years in prison. The other weapons-related offenses each carry maximum sentences of a year in jail. The maximum for possession of marijuana is 180 days in jail. All of the charges also carry potential fines.

     According to the government’s evidence, in the early morning hours of July 4, 2013, Kokesh stood in Freedom Plaza, in the 1400 block of Pennsylvania Avenue NW, while carrying a shotgun. While there, he loaded the shotgun with four rounds of ammunition and racked one of the rounds while being filmed on camera. Later that morning, a 23-second video of Kokesh carrying, loading and racking the shotgun was posted to YouTube and other social media sites run by Kokesh and others. In the bottom left corner of the video, the words, “Freedom Plaza, Between the White House and the Capitol, Washington, DC July 4, 2013” appear.

     A search of Kokesh’s Virginia home on July 9, 2013 led to the recovery of the shotgun that was believed to have been shown in the video. During the search, Kokesh directed officers to a headboard in the master bedroom, where the shotgun was located.

     “Every day, federal and local law enforcement officers put their lives on the line to protect national government facilities, national landmarks, and public servants working in our city from ongoing threats to our security,” said U.S. Attorney Machen. “Their jobs are hard enough without irresponsible people intentionally coming into the District of Columbia to brandish a loaded shotgun in the heart of the nation’s capital. As today’s plea demonstrates, there are consequences for anyone who flagrantly abuses our city’s firearms and drug laws.”

     Kokesh, who had been in custody while awaiting trial, is to be released pending sentencing. The judge ordered that he stay out of the District of Columbia pending sentencing. He also is not to possess any firearms.

     The drug charge stemmed from an incident on June 8, 2013 in the 1600 block of Pennsylvania Avenue NW. At 4:30 p.m. that day, officers with the U.S. Park Police observed Kokesh with what was believed to be a marijuana cigarette near the White House. Park Police recovered the cigarette, and it was later determined to contain marijuana.

     In announcing the plea, U.S. Attorney Machen commended the work of those who investigated the two cases from the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD), U.S. Park Police, the FBI, the U.S. Secret Service, the Drug Enforcement Administration, and the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. He also acknowledged the assistance of law enforcement agencies from Virginia. U.S. Attorney Machen also commended the efforts of those who handled the case for the U.S. Attorney’s Office, including Paralegal Specialist Wanda Trice. Finally, he thanked Assistant U.S. Attorneys Natalia Medina and Harry Roback and former Assistant U.S. Attorney Terry Eaton, who investigated and prosecuted the matters.


Updated February 19, 2015