Rioter Who Put His Feet on Pelosi's Desk Gets 4.5 Years

Prosecutors sought a sentence of more than 7 years for Richard 'Bigo' Barnett
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jan 23, 2023 12:38 PM CST
Updated May 24, 2023 6:40 PM CDT
Rioter Who Put His Feet on Pelosi's Desk Found Guilty
Richard Barnett arrives for his trial at the federal courthouse in Washington, Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2023.   (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)
UPDATE May 24, 2023 6:40 PM CDT

A retired firefighter from Arkansas who carried a stun gun during the Capitol riot and put his feet up on then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's desk has been sentenced to 4.5 years in federal prison. Richard "Bigo" Barnett was found guilty earlier this year on eight counts, including obstruction of an official proceeding, and prosecutors had sought a sentence of more than 7 years, CBS reports. "While you may regret having gone there that day, you have so far not shown any acceptance of responsibility," Judge Christopher Cooper told the 63-year-old on Wednesday. He added: "You're too old for this nonsense."

Jan 23, 2023 12:38 PM CST

An Arkansas man who propped his feet up on a desk in Nancy Pelosi’s office during the Capitol riot was convicted on Monday of joining a mob's attack on the building two years ago. After deliberating for around two hours, a jury unanimously convicted Richard "Bigo" Barnett on all eight counts in his indictment, including felony charges of civil disorder and obstruction of an official proceeding, the AP reports. Barnett lounging at a desk in Pelosi's office made him one of the most memorable figures from the riot on Jan. 6, 2021. He's scheduled to be sentenced in May, and he faces up to 20 years on the obstruction charge, the most serious one, per CNN.

Barnett, 62, testified last Thursday that he was looking for a bathroom inside the Capitol when he unwittingly entered Pelosi’s office and encountered two news photographers. He said one of the photographers told him to "act natural," so he leaned back in a chair and flung his legs onto the desk. "Did it dawn on you that what you were doing could cause some trouble?" defense attorney Joseph McBride asked Barnett. "I was just in the moment," Barnett replied. Prosecutors said Barnett had a stun gun tucked into his pants when he stormed the Capitol and invaded Pelosi’s office. He took a piece of her mail and left behind a note that said, "Nancy, Bigo was here," punctuating the message with a sexist expletive.

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A grand jury indicted Barnett on eight charges, including a charge of entering and remaining in restricted building or grounds with a deadly or dangerous weapon—a stun gun with spikes concealed within a collapsible walking stick. A prosecutor told jurors during the trial's opening statements that Barnett planned the trip for weeks and came prepared for violence. McBride told jurors that Barnett was just a "crazy guy from Arkansas" who didn’t hurt anybody on Jan. 6 and couldn’t have harmed anybody with the stun gun device because it was broken that day. Prosecutors said Barnett had a history of arming himself at political demonstrations.

(More Capitol riot stories.)

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