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Charlotte Co. man convicted of felony, additional violation charges Jan. 6

A Port Charlotte man was convicted of multiple felony and misdemeanor charges in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia following a trial before U.S. District Court Judge Randolph D. Moss.

A trial refers to the type of proceeding that does not involve a jury but is conducted by the judge alone, and in which the judge both decides on the facts of the case and applies the law.

The charges against John Joseph Richter, 39, of Port Charlotte, relate to his conduct in the breach of the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021. His actions and those of others disrupted a joint session of the U.S. Congress convened to hear the to determine and count electoral votes in connection with the 2020 presidential election.

Richter was convicted of obstructing an official proceeding. In addition to the felonies, he was convicted of misdemeanor counts of entering and remaining in a restricted building or grounds, entering and remaining in the chamber of Congress, disorderly conduct in a Capitol building, and parading, demonstrating or picketing in a Capitol building.

Judge Moss will sentence Judge on August 9, 2024.

Also sentenced Tuesday was Joseph Irwin, 43, of Cecilia, Kentucky.

According to court documents, in the weeks and days leading up to January 6, 2021, Richter and Irwin planned to travel to Washington, D.C. on January 6 with the intent of preventing the certification of the Electoral College vote.

In a text message, Judge Irwin sent a photo in which he discussed the Electoral College certification process on January 6 and former Vice President Mike Pence’s role in the certification.

As the two men discussed their travel plans to Washington, D.C., they discussed the potential for violence and their roles. In a message, Irwin asked Richter, “Are we an open militia or an innocent/willing bystander?” Richter responded, “Well, I think we’ll be in a huge crowd most of the time. So we most likely have to be opportunists. Gnome saying? I personally like the “ready bystander” wildcard approach.”

The two also discussed bringing relief supplies such as flagpoles, goggles, battery banks and full face gas masks to Washington DC.

Photo of son Joseph Richter, 39, of Port Charlotte, from federal court documents.

Ministry of Justice

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WGCU

Photo of son Joseph Richter, 39, of Port Charlotte, from federal court documents.

In one message, Richter distributed a photo of a metal pointed flagpole that he planned to bring to Washington, DC. Judge explained that he was bringing the all-black American flag because the “all-black flag means no mercy will be given. It’s time to do this.” Patriot s—.” Irwin also discussed bringing a wooden pole on which he had inscribed a black American flag; He said that his “wooden staff is as heavy as…”.

On January 6, 2021, the two men attended the “Stop the Steal” rally on the National Mall in Washington, DC and then marched to the U.S. Capitol with their previously discussed batons in hand. Richter carried a black American flag with a sharp metal tip and Irwin carried a heavy wooden staff.

After reaching the Capitol grounds, Irwin and Richter climbed up to the Upper West Terrace and approached a group of police officers who had just arrived on the Capitol grounds. Irwin approached the officers while pointing his wooden pole at them. Irwin repeatedly yelled at the officers, “Go home!” He then aggressively hit the officers with his pole on the ground in a threatening manner, eventually breaking his wooden pole in two.

Next, Irwin and Richter made their way to the double doors of the Senate. Richter dismantled his pole in two and handed Irwin a piece of the pole – with a metal tip.

From there, the two continued to swing their sticks as they watched the rioters break into the building, screaming, “LET US IN!” LET US IN! LET US IN!” Judge and Irwin watched as other rioters broke the windows and broke into the Capitol through the parliamentarian’s door. At about 2:43 p.m. – just minutes after the parliamentarian’s door was forced open – defendants Richter and Irwin entered the Capitol and pounded the floor with their poles.

The two men joined a group of rioters who marched through the Capitol and eventually made their way to the Senate chamber, where the former vice president and members of Congress had recently been evacuated under an emergency order.

As the rioters poured into the Senate and roared through the vice president’s desk, Irwin banged his flagpole on the floor and screamed at the top of his lungs: “THIS IS OUR HOUSE!” THIS IS OUR HOUSE! THIS IS WHAT THE COURT WILL DO.” IF THE COURT TAKES IT, DON’T GIVE IT BACK TO THEM NOW!”

While they were still in the Senate, cheering with other rioters in celebration of “taking over” the chamber, the two men sat at senators’ desks and had a fellow rioter take their photo while swinging their batons.

The men left the Senate chamber and the Capitol only after Metropolitan Police Department officers eventually expelled them. After their involvement in the Capitol riots, the two continued to celebrate their success in stopping the proceedings before Congress. Court documents say Irwin framed the pointed wooden stick in a shadow box and described it as a “relic.”

The FBI arrested Joseph Irwin on August 17, 2021 in Cecilia, Kentucky, and John Richter on March 2, 2023 in Port Charlotte.

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