Michigan man found guilty of charges tied to Jan. 6 Capitol breach

Mark Hicks
The Detroit News

A federal jury this week found a Southgate man guilty of charges related to the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection in Washington, D.C.

The trial for Anthony Robert Williams, 47, started Monday in the District of Columbia. 

On Thursday, jurors found him guilty of the felony offense of obstruction of an official proceeding and four related misdemeanor charges, the U.S. Department of Justice said.

Facebook provided the FBI with photos of Southgate resident Anthony R. Williams inside the U.S. Capitol.

The charges included entering and remaining in a restricted building or grounds; disorderly and disruptive conduct in a restricted building or grounds; disorderly conduct in a Capitol building; and parading, demonstrating, or picketing in a Capitol building.

“His actions and the actions of others disrupted a joint session of the U.S. Congress convened to ascertain and count the electoral votes related to the presidential election,” federal officials said in a statement Thursday.

Williams is scheduled to be sentenced on Sept. 16. He faces up to 20 years in prison on the felony obstruction charge, while the misdemeanors carry a combined statutory maximum of three years and potential financial penalties, the government said.

Reached Friday night, Benton Martin, a federal defender who represented him in the case, declined comment on the verdict.

According to the government’s evidence, in the weeks before a “Stop the Steal” rally coinciding with Congress meeting to certify Joe Biden as the winner in the 2020 presidential election, Williams posted various statements on social media indicating he intended to travel to Washington to “storm the swamp.” 

He recorded videos of himself while illegally inside the Capitol building and “used bike racks put into place by police officers to assist other rioters in getting onto the Northwest stairs,” authorities said Thursday.

“Williams himself raised his arms as he scaled the railing after rioters broke through the line of officers.  He was in a wave of rioters that entered the Senate Wing door at 2:18 p.m., just five minutes after that door was breached in the first breach of the building by rioters that day. He then went to the Crypt and was close to the front of the line of officers when rioters broke through.”

The government reported Williams then went to the Rotunda, where he filmed himself making statements such as “desperate times, desperate measures.” 

Williams also “resisted efforts of law enforcement officers to push the mob out of the area, holding the line for his side in the Rotunda,” investigators said. “He was one of the last rioters to be pushed out of that area. He was in the Capitol Building for about one hour.”

The case against him emerged after an online tipster described since-deleted Facebook posts showing Williams inside the Capitol, according to an affidavit from an FBI agent.

Investigators found photos of Williams at the Capitol and obtained phone records showing his phone inside the building on Jan. 6, the agent said. 

Facebook provided photos and videos from his account showing Williams inside the building, according to the government.  In one video, Williams discussed how he "stormed" the building and "pushed back the cops," the FBI reported.

Facebook also provided this photo of Anthony R. Williams during a stop on the way to the nation's capital.

Williams was arrested on March 26, 2021, in Detroit. He later was released on a $10,000 bond.

Within weeks, federal officials said, he boasted about his actions on social media, saying in a post on April 19: “I was in the Capitol and have absolutely no remorse or fear in saying or doing it."

Last month, his legal team sought to delay the trial until September or later as high-profile hearings led by a U.S. House committee investigating the riot continue.

The timing “prejudices Mr. Williams’s ability to obtain a fair trial and raises a due process concern for two reasons,” they wrote in a filing, arguing the hearings affect his "ability to secure an unbiased jury, in any jurisdiction, given the high viewership of the hearings and their proximity in time to the trial. … Second, it is unfair to proceed to trial when neither the prosecution nor the defense knows what newly disclosed evidence may be produced through the Select Committee hearings.”

Chief U.S. District Judge Beryl Howell, who oversaw the trial, denied the request in a June 23 order, saying the hearings are "not sufficient reason" to reschedule.

“The events of January 6, 2021, occurred nearly 18 months ago and this defendant was charged and arrested nearly 15 months ago, with the trial in this case scheduled nearly 5 months ago, with ten substantive pretrial motions already resolved in preparation for trial to proceed in less than three business days,” she wrote. “The interests of justice are not served by any further delay in the resolution of this case.”

The jury’s decision on Williams came the same day the FBI arrested another Michigan man, Luke Lints, for his alleged role in the insurrection.

Weeks earlier, authorities arrested GOP gubernatorial candidate Ryan Kelley on four misdemeanor charges related to the attack.

The DOJ lists 16 people arrested in Michigan and charged in connection with the events.

“In the 17 months since Jan. 6, 2021, more than 840 individuals have been arrested in nearly all 50 states for crimes related to the breach of the U.S. Capitol, including over 250 individuals charged with assaulting or impeding law enforcement,” officials said Thursday. “The investigation remains ongoing.”

Anyone with tips can call 1-800-CALL-FBI (800-225-5324) or go to tips.fbi.gov.