A U.S. Capitol Police officer was arrested today following his indictment on federal charges of obstruction of justice stemming from communications and actions in the aftermath of 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.
Michael A. Riley, 50, was indicted in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia on two counts of obstruction. The indictment was unsealed following his arrest this morning, and he made his initial court appearance this afternoon. He was released on personal recognizance pending a hearing on October 26.
According to the indictment, Riley has more than 25 years of experience and was at work on Jan. 6, 2021. Although he was not on duty inside the Capitol building itself during the attack, he was aware of what was taking place. That day, he responded to reports of an explosive device near the Capitol complex.
From Jan. 7 through Jan. 20, the indictment alleges, Riley communicated via direct messages on social media with an individual identified as “Person 1,” who had posted photographs, videos and other commentary on social media admitting his presence and conduct inside the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6. On Jan. 7, Riley directed “Person 1” to conceal evidence, writing, “im a capitol police officer who agrees with your political stance. Take down the part about being in the building they are currently investigating and everyone who was in the building is going to charged. Just looking out!”
On Jan. 19, according to the indictment, “Person 1” was arrested and interviewed by the FBI. He sent Riley messages on Jan. 20 regarding having turned himself in, and added, “The fbi was very curious that I had been speaking to you if they haven’t already asked you about me they are gonna … They took my phone and downloaded everything.” After Riley received that message, on Jan. 20, he deleted all of his messages to and from “Person 1,” and, the following day, Riley ceased all communications with the individual.
Each count of obstruction of justice charge carries a statutory maximum of 20 years. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
An indictment is merely an allegation and all defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.
The case is being investigated by the FBI’s Washington Field Office, with significant assistance provided by the Office of the Inspector General of the U.S. Capitol Police. The case is being prosecuted by the Public Corruption and Civil Rights Section of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia.