July 17, 2024

Felony charges dropped as Middleburg couple take plea deal in U.S. Capitol riot case

Florida Times-Union | by Steve Patterson | October 6, 2021

“We were trying to storm them to stop the vote and they were starting tear gassing and forcing us out.”

Federal prosecutors described Middleburg resident Rachael Pert saying that after taking part in the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol. This week, she acknowledged they had proof.

Pert and her partner, Dana Joe Winn, pleaded guilty Monday to misdemeanor charges of entering and remaining in a restricted building, which can carry one-year jail sentences.

In return, prosecutors dropped felony charges with penalties up to 20 years. The agreement was a package, where both had to plead guilty for the deal to go through.

They’re scheduled for sentencing Dec. 20 in Washington.

The couple were the first of eight Jacksonville-area residents charged in the riot to have verdicts decided.

Rachael Pert, Dana Joe Winn photographed inside the Capitol on Jan. 6

The pair, who had posted video from their drive to Washington on Facebook before the riot, were photographed inside the Capitol, where a meeting of Congress to certify President Joe Biden’s election victory was halted by hundreds of rioters.

Both masked, Pert wore a TRUMP flag like a cape and Winn carried an American flag on a pole.

In a packet of legal papers filed after a virtual court hearing Monday, the couple each signed to acknowledge the government could prove basic facts — a “statement of offense” — about their actions Jan. 6.

The pair had traveled to Washington for a “Stop the Steal” rally protesting results from the election, said the statement, which was added to the court’s public docket late in the day Tuesday.

“After attending the rally, the defendant[s] marched to the U.S. Capitol and made entrance into the building,” continued the statement, which said Winn’s flag was upside-down “to indicate a country in distress.”

The statement said the two were captured on video again after leaving the Capitol, talking about what had happened.

“They said we stopped the vote,” it quoted Pert saying others had told her about the certification.

“… Isn’t that what we were trying to do?” Winn replied.

The riot, for which more than 600 people nationally have been charged, led to five deaths and close to $1.5 million in damage to the Capitol.

The plea agreements require Pert, 41, and Winn, 46, to each pay $500 in restitution.

The plea agreements say sentencing guidelines for Pert and Winn appear to be between zero and six months in jail, but that U.S. District Judge Trevor N. McFadden isn’t bound by that timeframe.

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