WASHINGTON – A Texas man pleaded guilty today to a felony charge for his actions during 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 called to verify and counting electoral votes related to the presidential election.
Christian Cortez, 28, of Seabrook, Texas, pleaded guilty in the District of Columbia to a civil disorder charge. A co-defendant, Benjamin Larocca, 28, also of Seabrook, Texas, pleaded guilty in April 2022 to a misdemeanor charge of engaging in disorderly or disruptive conduct in a building or restricted area with intent to obstruct or disrupt the orderly conduct of government. Business. He awaits his sentencing.
According to court documents, Cortez and Larocca traveled from Texas to Washington and, on January 6, attended a rally near the Washington Monument. They then proceeded to the Capitol, where they saw others illegally in a restricted area and scaling the walls of the building. Cortez and Larocca climbed the stairs on the west side of the Capitol, eventually reaching the west upper terrace. The two men entered the Capitol around 2:53 p.m. through the House Gate. They made it through the building before law enforcement prevented them and others from entering any further into the building. Cortez and Larocca then left the Capitol around 3:06 p.m.
After leaving the building, Cortez joined a crowd outside the North Gates, where rioters were trying to break down the Capitol doors and law enforcement officers were trying to keep the rioters out of the building. Cortez walked past the doors as the agents attempted to seal them, and Cortez began to insult the agents and call them “oath breakers”. He slammed a blue flag and strode past the gates. Even after being sprayed with a chemical irritant, Cortez didn’t move and shouted, “Do some more!”
Cortez and Larocca were arrested on March 26, 2021 in Seabrook, Texas. Cortez is due to be sentenced on August 31, 2022. He faces a legal maximum of five years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after considering US sentencing guidelines and other statutory factors.
The case is being prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia and the Counterterrorism Section of the National Security Division of the Department of Justice. Valuable assistance was provided by the US Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Texas.
The case was investigated by the FBI Field Office in Houston. Valuable assistance was provided by the FBI Field Office in Washington, the United States Capitol Police and the Metropolitan Police Department.
In the 16 months since January 6, 2021, more than 800 people have been arrested in nearly all 50 states for crimes related to the breach of the US Capitol, including more than 250 people charged with assault or obstruction of law enforcement. The investigation is still ongoing.
Anyone with tips can call 1-800-CALL-FBI (800-225-5324) or visit tips.fbi.gov.