An Arizona man who became the center of a Jan. 6, 2021, conspiracy theory has been charged with a misdemeanor in connection with the U.S. Capitol riot
ByALANNA DURKIN RICHER Associated Press and LINDSAY WHITEHURST Associated Press
September 19, 2023, 11:33 AM
WASHINGTON — Ray Epps, an Arizona man who became the center of a conspiracy theory about Jan. 6, 2021, has been charged with a misdemeanor offense in connection with the U.S. Capitol riot, according to court papers filed Tuesday.
Epps, a former Marine who claimed in a lawsuit filed this year that Fox News Channel made him a scapegoat for the Capitol riot, is charged with a count of disorderly or disruptive conduct on restricted grounds, court records show.
Messages seeking comment from an attorney representing Epps in his lawsuit against Fox were not immediately returned Tuesday. There was no attorney listed in the court docket in the criminal case filed in Washington’s federal court.
Epps, a one-time supporter of President Donald Trump who has said he went to Washington to protest the 2020 election Trump lost to Joe Biden, was falsely accused by Fox of being a government agent who was whipping up trouble that would be blamed on Trump supporters, his lawsuit claims.
In an interview that aired earlier this year with CBS’ “60 Minutes,” Epps described being “on the run,” after death threats forced him and his wife to sell their home. At the time of the interview, they were living in a recreational vehicle in the Rocky Mountains, according to “60 Minutes.”
“I had to do the necessary things to keep my family safe,” Epps said.
Although Epps’ lawsuit mentions Fox’s Laura Ingraham and Will Cain, former Fox host Tucker Carlson is cited as the leader in promoting the theory. Epps was featured in more than two dozen segments on Carlson’s prime-time show, the lawsuit said. Messages seeking comment were sent Tuesday to Fox News and a lawyer for Carlson.
Epps’ lawsuit against Fox says the Justice Department told him in May that he faces criminal charges for his actions on Jan. 6 and blames that on “the relentless attacks by Fox and Mr. Carlson and the resulting political pressure.”
In January 2022, the House committee that investigated the Jan. 6 riot interviewed Epps, a native of Mesa, Arizona. Epps, who worked as a roofer after serving four years as infantry in the U.S. Marine Corps, told the House investigators that he never worked for the FBI.
Richer reported Associated Press reporters David Bauder in New York and Michael Kunzelman in Washington contributed.