A Dawsonville man pleaded guilty Wednesday for his role in the Jan. 6, 2021, assault on the U.S. Capitol.
Benjamin Torre, 24, pleaded guilty to the misdemeanor offense of parading, demonstrating or picketing in a Capitol building. He waived his rights to a bench trial for the offense.
Torre is expected to be sentenced at 10 a.m. on July 7, 2022.
According to his plea agreement, the other charges of entering and remaining in a restricted building or grounds; disorderly and disruptive conduct in a restricted building or grounds; entering and remaining in certain rooms in the Capitol building; and disorderly conduct in a Capitol building will be dismissed at the time of sentencing.
Torre was one of more than 700 Americans charged in the Capitol riot.
Before Torre entered a plea, U.S. Department of Justice prosecutor Katherine Nielsen explained that if the court was to proceed to trial, prosecutors could prove that Torre traveled with his family to Washington D.C. on Jan. 4, 2021 with the intent to protest Congress’ certification of the election of President Joe Biden.
Nielsen said Torre attended Donald Trump’s “Stop the Steal” rally and march on Jan. 6, 2021 then about 3 p.m., climbed through a broken Capitol window. Once inside, Torre entered a U.S. Senate lounge and the office of Democratic Sen. Jeff Merkley, of Oregon.
While inside the rooms, Nielsen stated that Torre took pictures and commented to other protesters how “wild” events were before eventually climbing out the same broken window he had entered. Torre admitted to entering the Capitol with knowledge that he didn’t have permission to be there and that he willfully picketed.
U.S. District of Columbia Judge Rudolph Contreras explained that the sentencing would have to be scheduled in July because district probation officers are overwhelmed with creating pre-trial statements for all of the Jan. 6 defendants.
Contreras told Torre that he could be sentenced to six months in prison, five years of probation, fines of up to $5,000, restitution for victims who sustained loss as part of offense and a fine to pay the government for any cost of infringement.
Since parole has been abolished for federal charges, Torre would serve a prison sentence in full and would not be released early, Contreras said. The judge added later that he didn’t know the exact sentence he would impose yet because he needs to hear more from lawyers and the probation officer in charge of Torre.
Before a sentencing hearing, a pre-trial sentencing report will be created, requiring Torre’s probation officer to interview him. At the time of sentencing, Torre and his lawyer will have the opportunity to speak on his behalf. Torre will be on pretrial release until the sentencing.