Bob’s Burgers and Anchorman Actor Jay Johnston Pleads Guilty to Felony in January 6 Capitol Attack

Actor and comedian Jay Johnston has admitted guilt for his involvement in the January 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol. The judge scheduled a sentencing hearing for October 7.

Jay Johnston
Jay Johnston pleads guilty to felony in January 6, 2021 Capitol attack.

Jay Johnston, a veteran comedian known for his roles in “Mr. Show,” “Arrested Development,” “Bob’s Burgers,” and “Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy,” has admitted guilt for his involvement in the January 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol. Johnston, dressed in a gray suit, pleaded guilty to the felony charge of obstructing officers during a civil disorder. When U.S. District Judge Carl Nichols inquired about his plea, Johnston responded, “Guilty.”

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The judge scheduled a sentencing hearing for October 7, and directed federal prosecutors to submit their sentencing recommendations by September 30, with the defense’s memo due by October 3.

Following his arrest, Johnston was indicted by a federal grand jury alongside four other individuals involved in the January 6 incident. The government claimed that all five men participated in the violent confrontation at the lower west tunnel of the Capitol, a hotspot for rioter-on-law-enforcement clashes that day. The FBI alleged that video evidence showed Johnston handing a stolen U.S. Capitol police shield to other rioters and engaging in a group assault on officers defending the tunnel.

Johnston was identified as suspect No. 247 on the FBI’s Capitol Violence website, which features photos of key rioters from the attack. In March 2021, Johnston’s lawyer contacted the FBI’s National Threat Operations Center to confirm his client’s involvement.

The FBI also interviewed three of Johnston’s associates, one of whom provided a text message from Johnston acknowledging his presence at the Capitol on January 6. In the message, Johnston stated, “The news has presented it as an attack. It actually wasn’t. Thought it kind of turned into that. It was a mess. Got maced and tear gassed and I found it quite untastic.”

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Johnston faced professional repercussions prior to his formal charges. His character on “Bob’s Burgers,” Jimmy Pesto Sr., was written off the show due to his participation in the Capitol riot, as reported by the Daily Beast in December 2021. The character was later brought back with a different voice actor.

Throughout his career, Jay Johnston frequently portrayed law enforcement roles on shows like “The Sarah Silverman Program” and “Arrested Development.” He is also well-known for his performance in “Mr. Show’s” “The Story of Everest” sketch and his role in “Anchorman” as a member of Wes Mantooth’s news team during the iconic battle scene.

In the aftermath of the January 6 attack, the FBI has arrested over 1,400 individuals and secured more than 1,000 convictions. While many lower-level offenders received probation, over 540 prison sentences have been handed down, ranging from brief jail terms to 22 years for Enrique Tarrio, the former Proud Boys leader convicted of seditious conspiracy.

The Supreme Court’s recent decision regarding the obstruction of an official proceeding charge, which has been applied to numerous January 6 defendants, is anticipated to impact many ongoing cases. The government has a limited timeframe of under a year and a half to charge identified rioters before the statute of limitations expires in early 2026.

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