Two months ago, a man was photographed walking with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s lectern hefted over his shoulder in the U.S. Capitol.
He was among the throngs who entered the building, but a photo of him carrying the lectern, smiling and waving at the camera, became an internet favorite. Nicknamed “lectern guy,” the man would later be identified as Adam Johnson from Bradenton, Florida – and he wouldn’t be the only Floridian arrested during or after the siege.
Now, weeks later, twenty-three Floridians have been charged in the Jan. 6 raid on the Capitol, representing nearly one-in-10 of the total. That puts the state behind only Texas, where more of its residents were arrested.
The Justice Department says more than 300 people have been arrested so far, from at least 40 states, although details are available for about 270 of them. Most were implicated in social media posts – often from live streams they were accused of recording and broadcasting themselves.
Most of the criminal cases began in courtrooms in Florida, but all are being transferred to Washington to be judged in the federal court district where the riot happened. Here’s an overview of five of Florida’s most prominent cases, including why they were arrested and the criminal charges they face.
The last time a citizen breached the U.S. Capitol was in July 1998, when two Capitol Police officers were shot and killed by Russel Eugene Weston Jr. No large group has broken into the Capitol since 1814, when British troops burned the building during the War of 1812.
Joseph Randall Biggs
Hometown: Ormond Beach, Florida
Reason for arrest: A self-described member of the right-wing militant group “Proud Boys” and former staff member of far-right conspiracy theory website InfoWars, Joseph Biggs is accused of being one of the organizers at the Capitol storming. The FBI said he helped organize the event and break into the building.
In late December, Biggs posted a message to his followers on the social media site Parler about the planned siege. He instructed them not to wear the group’s usual colors of yellow and black, according to the FBI.
“We will not be attending DC in colors. We will be blending in as one of you,” he wrote. “We are going to smell like you, move like you, and look like you. The only thing we’ll do that’s us is think like us! Jan 6th is gonna be epic.”
In one Parler livestream, Biggs was identified entering the Capitol after the group broke the doors open.
“Hey, Biggs, what do you got to say?” a person off-camera shouted.
The man identified as Biggs smiled broadly and replied, “This is awesome!”
Biggs’ lawyer, John Hull, declined to talk about the case.
1. Obstruction of an official proceeding
2. Entering restricted building or grounds
3. Violent and disorderly conduct
Court dates: Biggs faced a Florida court for an initial appearance on Jan. 20. His appearance in Washington has not been scheduled yet, but court records show it will likely be later this month.
Background: Garcia, a former Army captain, ran in the Republican primary for Florida House District 116 in August against incumbent Daniel Perez. Garcia lost the primary. He is accused of also being a member of the Proud Boys.
Reason for arrest: During the riot, the FBI said, Garcia live streamed the events inside the Capitol to his Facebook account. At one point, he was seen turning the camera on himself and saying “We just went ahead and stormed the Capitol. It’s about to get ugly.”
The FBI said that, during the video, Garcia called Capitol police “traitors,” and shouted “Nancy, come out and play,” and “Free Enrique.” An FBI agent speculated that this was a reference to Enrique Tarrio, a leader of the Proud Boys who was arrested on Jan. 4.
Garcia’s attorney, Charles Haskell, declined to discuss the case.
- Impeding a law enforcement officer in the lawful performance of his official duties
- Obstruction of an official proceeding
- Entering and remaining in a restricted building
- Disorderly and disruptive conduct in a restricted building
- Violent entry and disorderly conduct in a capitol building
- Parading, demonstrating, or picketing in a capitol building
Court dates: His first appearance was on Jan. 20, the day after his arrest. He was formally charged on Feb. 17. His next court was scheduled for 1 p.m. March 30, where Garcia is expected to appear virtually for a status hearing.
Hometown: Bradenton, Florida
Reason for arrest: When Johnson was accused of taking House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s lectern from the Capitol, he allegedly did so in a knitted Trump beanie, complete with a wave and a smile.
His face was clear in the Getty Images photo that circulated across the internet. The FBI said it took less than one day to identify him.
The photo of Johnson, which court records describe as a stay-at-home dad, with the podium was not the only one showing him inside the Capitol. In a photo posted to his Facebook, Johnson was seen pointing to a sign inside the building that said “Closed to all tours.”
“No,” the caption said.
Johnson’s lawyer, Charles Haskell, declined to comment.
- Knowingly entering or remaining in any restricted building or grounds without lawful authority
- Theft of government property
- Violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds
Court dates: Johnson was in federal court in Florida and in Washington in January, where his conditions for release were modified. His next court date was set for April 19.
Hometown: Dunnellon, Florida
Reason for arrest: The Oath Keepers are a prominent citizen militia that believes the federal government has been overtaken by an evil shadow government — and Kelly Meggs is the self-described leader of its Florida chapter.
Meggs was one of at least eight Oath Keepers whom the FBI says breached the Capitol, each dressed in camouflage combat gear with a helmet. They kept their hands on each other’s backs as they walked through the building, taking videos and pictures, according to court papers.
Meggs, the “team leader” of the group’s expedition, was joined by two other Floridians in the Capitol — his wife, Connie Meggs, and Graydon Young, the FBI said. Prosecutors said all were following the orders of the group’s anonymous leader, Person One, who sent out an email partially titled “Call To Action: Oath Keepers Deploying to DC.”
“We will also have well armed and equipped QRF teams on standby, outside DC, in the event of a worst case scenario, where the President calls us up as part of the militia to to [sic] assist him inside DC.,” Person One wrote, according to the affidavit.
David Wilson, Meggs’ lawyer, declined to comment.
- Conspiracy to commit offense or defraud United States
- Destruction of government property and aiding and abetting
- Obstruction of an official proceeding and aiding and abetting
- Trespassing on restricted buildings or grounds
Court dates: Meggs was in federal court twice last month and remains in federal custody. His initial hearing and arraignment in Washington are on March 12.
“This case isn’t just about breaking the law. We see those cases everyday. This case is different. It is more,” a Florida court wrote in Meggs’ detention order, which was signed by Magistrate Judge Philip Lammens. “It is about challenging the very existence of the law.”
Hometown: Coral Springs, Florida
Reason for arrest: Someone sent the FBI a screen recording of Marquez’s Snapchat posts on Jan. 6, the FBI said. They showed Marquez driving from Florida to the Capitol in his Tesla Model 3, attending a rally before the riot and walking around inside the Capitol Building during the riot.
In one video, Marquez turned the camera toward himself inside the building, showing a blue piece of art that was inside the office of Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Oregon.
In a televised interview on Jan 19, the day of his arrest, Marquez compared his arrest to those of influential civil rights leaders.
“This is like a Rosa Parks, like Martin Luther King moment for me,” Marquez said. “As long as I’m peaceful and I can say, ‘Hey, let’s all come together,’ you know, I think that’s the most important thing.”
Cara Halverson, Marquez’s attorney, declined to comment.
- Obstruction of an official proceeding
- Entering and remaining in a restricted building or grounds
- Disruptive and disorderly conduct in a restricted building or grounds
- Violent entry and disorderly conduct in a Capitol building
- Entering and remaining in certain rooms in the Capitol building
Court dates: Marquez pleaded not guilty to all charges during his arraignment hearing on March 3. His next scheduled court date is a May 5 status hearing.
Other Floridians Charged
Matthew Council, 49, Riverview, Fla.
Samuel Carmargo, 26, Broward County, Fla.
Michael Curizo, 35, Summerfield, Fla.
Anthony Mariotto, 52, Fort Pierce, Fla.
Rachael Pert, 40, Middleburg, Fla.
Dana Winn, 45, Middleburg, Fla.
Jesus Rivera, 37, Pensacola, Fla.
Michael Stepakoff, 55, Palm Harbor, Fla.
Tristan Stevens, 25, Pensacola, Fla.
Bradley Weeks, 43, Macclenny, Fla.
Andrew Williams, 32, Sanford, Fla.
Paul Allard Hodgkins, 38, Tampa, Fla.
John Steven Anderson, 61, St. Augustine, Fla.
Adam Avery Honeycutt, 39, Orange Park, Fla.
Nicholes Lentz, 41, Miami, Fla.
Steve Omar Maldonado, 40, Palm Bay, Fla.
Connie Meggs, 59, Dunnellon, Fla.
Graydon Young, 54, Englewood, Fla.
This story was produced by Fresh Take Florida, a news service of the University of Florida College of Journalism and Communications. The reporters can be reached at email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org