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At least 63 Texans — including a state House candidate — are accused of taking part in the Capitol insurrection

Supporters of Donald Trump stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, and interrupted Congress’ certification of the results from the 2020 election. (REUTERS/Michael Nigro/Sipa USA)

By Reese Oxner

On Jan. 6, 2021, Frisco real estate agent Jennifer Leigh Ryan joined a mob of Donald Trump supporters storming the U.S. Capitol, broadcasting her experience live on Facebook.

But exactly one year later, she’s sitting in prison because of her role in the chaos.

Ryan was among hundreds who repeated baseless claims that the 2020 election was stolen from Trump as they stormed the U.S. Capitol and interrupted Congress’ certification of the results.

“We are going to f---ing go in here. Life or death, it doesn’t matter,” she said during the Facebook Live, according to court documents.

Ryan turned the camera on her own face before saying, “Y’all know who to hire for your Realtor. Jenna Ryan for your Realtor.”

Jennifer Leigh Ryan posted to social media this image of herself standing on the grounds of the U.S. Capitol building on Jan. 6, 2021, according to court records. (Credit: U.S Department of Justice)

Ryan, who recently began her 60-day prison sentence for parading, demonstrating or picketing in a Capitol Building, is one of at least 63 Texans who were charged with various crimes for their actions that day. That includes Mark Middleton — charged with assaulting an officer and multiple counts of obstruction — who is currently running for a Texas House seat.

The number of Texans facing charges continues to grow as the FBI proceeds with its investigations and makes arrests. Charges against participants — and the punishments they face — range from misdemeanors with minor penalties to felonies that could result in years of prison time.

Trump had called on his supporters to rally in Washington, D.C. And at a protest earlier in the day, he acknowledged that rallygoers were going to march toward the Capitol to encourage lawmakers not to certify the vote.

“I know that everyone here will soon be marching over to the Capitol building to, peacefully and patriotically, make your voices heard today,” he said.

Texas Republicans often took the lead on baseless lawsuits that sought to dismiss the results of the 2020 election and tried to rally Trump supporters to protest his loss.

Texas has the third-highest number of residents charged with crimes related to the Capitol riot, just under Florida and Pennsylvania, according to USA Today's database. Texans make up about 9% of those in the country charged with crimes.

U.S. Rep. Vicente Gonzalez, D-McAllen, said in an interview that fear and disbelief overwhelmed him as he hid from the mob rushing through the Capitol that day.

“I don't think there was anyone in the chamber who didn't think they might not make it home that night,” he said.

It seemed like both sides of the aisle were initially united in outrage over what happened, Gonzalez said. However, he said the tides quickly shifted once the dust settled. Soon, each party took a polarized stance on the event, with a few exceptions on the Republican side, he said.

Every criminal case against those charged is being prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia. But each defendant must appear before the district court where they are arrested. That means dozens of different courtrooms across the state are overseeing these cases.

Around 40 people involved in the Capitol riot remained at the District of Columbia jail awaiting trial as of early November, according to The New York Times. However, it is unclear how many of those were Texans.

Out of the more than five dozen Texas defendants, only five people have been sentenced so far — and four of those are serving prison time. Each of those five cases were resolved after plea agreements lowered the involved charges to relatively low-level offenses.

Five Texans have dates scheduled for their sentencing. Cases against the dozens of other Texans facing charges — including 20 people accused of causing violence — are still working through the courts.

Five Texans have already been sentenced

Troy Anthony Smocks of Dallas was given the heaviest sentence of any Texan so far — and was the first Texan charged with a felony to be sentenced. On Oct. 21, he was given 14 months of incarceration and three years of supervised release for making threats in interstate communications and for posting threatening social media messages.

According to court documents, Smocks took to the social media website Parler detailing his participation and outlining threats.

“So over the next 24 hours, I would say, let's get our personal affairs in order. Prepare Our Weapons, and then go hunting. Lets hunt these cowards down like the Traitors that each of them are,” Smocks wrote, according to court documents. “It wasn't the building that We was them!”

Smocks, who is Black, argued he was treated more severely by prosecutors because of his race, according to The Washington Post. U.S. District Judge Tanya S. Chutkan of Washington, D.C., who is also Black, dismissed Smocks’ claim.

“I have not seen a scintilla of evidence that prosecutors’ decisions have been racially motivated,” Chutkan said.

The FBI said Smocks made a flight reservation to depart the U.S. for a foreign country on the morning of Jan. 15. He was arrested the day before.

His sentence was harsher than what federal prosecutors recommended, according to The Washington Post. The judge in charge of the case said it was necessary to deter any similar future actions from others.

“Because the country is watching,” Chutkan said, according to The Post, “to see what the consequences are for something that has not ever happened in this country before, for actions and crimes that undermine the rule of law and our democracy.”

Matthew Carl Mazzocco was a mortgage loan officer in San Antonio before he was fired following his arrest, according to KSAT-TV. He was sentenced in October to 45 days of incarceration and 60 hours of community service after he pleaded guilty to parading, demonstrating or picketing in a Capitol building.

The FBI received an anonymous tip identifying Mazzocco based on social media posts, including one post from outside the Capitol that he captioned: “The capital is ours!

Matthew Carl Mazzocco posted a photo of himself on Jan. 6, 2021, to Facebook with the caption, “The capital is ours!" according to court records. (Credit: U.S Department of Justice)

Tam Dinh Pham was an 18-year veteran of the Houston police force before he resigned after investigators began probing him over his actions during the Capitol riot.

Pham was sentenced to 45 days in prison, given a $1,000 fine and ordered to pay $500 for damages to the Capitol. He pleaded guilty on Sept. 20 to parading, demonstrating or picketing in a Capitol building after initially denying that he was there. Investigators found photos that he took of the scene that proved he was inside.

Ryan, the Frisco real estate agent, took a private jet to Washington, D.C., saying on Twitter afterward, “We just stormed the Capital. It was one of the best days of my life,” according to court records.

She was sentenced on Nov. 4 to 60 days in prison, fined $1,000 and ordered to pay $500 for damages to the Capitol. After initially pleading not guilty, she eventually pleaded guilty to parading, demonstrating or picketing in a Capitol building.

Ryan made headlines for her unapologetic social media presence that she adopted soon after the Capitol riot. In March, she tweeted: “Sorry I have blonde hair white skin a great job a great future and I’m not going to jail.”

When handing down her sentence, the judge overseeing her case cited a lack of remorse on Ryan’s part.

Ryan’s attorney, Guy Womack, said in an interview the ruling was unfair because it was based on her actions after Jan. 6 and that Ryan later demonstrated remorse.

Eliel Rosa of Midland pleaded guilty to one count of parading, demonstrating or picketing in a Capitol building and was sentenced Oct. 12 to one year of probation and 100 hours of community service. Rosa also was ordered to pay $500 for damages to the Capitol.

Rosa was arrested along with Jenny Cudd, a former Midland mayoral candidate. Cudd was seen on video saying, "We did break down the Nancy Pelosi’s office door… Fuck yes, I am proud of my actions, I fucking charged the Capitol today with patriots today."

Cudd is set to be sentenced on March 18.

One Texas defendant is seeking a seat in the Texas House

Mark Middleton launched a campaign for a seat in the Texas House of Representatives following his indictment. He faces charges of assaulting an officer and multiple counts of obstruction.

He is among three Republicans challenging state Rep. David Spiller in the March 1 GOP primary for the North Texas seat.

He and his wife, Jalise Middleton, are accused of pushing against police barricades, grappling with officers and cursing at them. His wife is accused of repeatedly grabbing an officer and striking them with her hand. The couple struggled with two officers until they were hit with pepper spray, according to the complaint.

According to court documents, Jalise Middleton commented on Facebook after the riot, "We fought the cops to get in the Capital and got pepper sprayed and beat but by gosh the patriots got in!"

The couple says they never entered the Capitol itself. Mark Middleton said they both rejected plea bargains because they deny that they attacked police. He alleges that the officers began beating them while their backs were turned and they were only reacting to the blows.

Mark Middleton — whose platform includes calling for Texas to consider seceding from the U.S. — said in an interview with The Texas Tribune that he’s toyed with the idea of running for political office before, but his experience on Jan. 6 inspired him to run. Other than his cursing at officers and subsequent Facebook posts he made, Middleton said he doesn’t regret his actions that day.

“I’m not ashamed of it, not afraid of it,” he said.

He claims that most of the people he’s spoken to following the events, have considered his involvement a positive thing.

“Actually, it's great publicity,” he said.

Middleton said his pilot’s license was revoked following the incident, and he feels that many of the people present on Jan. 6 are being mistreated — especially the ones who never stepped foot in the Capitol. He thinks that their involvement is being overblown.

“They're not telling the story of middle-aged people like me and my wife that were model citizens in the community and well respected and highly involved with no criminal records whatsoever being arrested like a common violent criminal,” he said.

Investigations continue

The FBI is continuing to solicit tips from the general public to help identify people in over 1,500 photos and videos. As more arrests are made, the defendants are added to the bureau’s database.

The arrests made so far have been a result of a mass collaboration between local and federal law enforcement and tipsters. And there are no signs of it slowing down quickly.

The government estimates as many as 2,500 people who took part in the events of Jan. 6 could be charged with federal crimes, according to The New York Times. That includes more than 1,000 incidents that prosecutors believe could be assaults.

A year later, the vast majority of cases have yet to reach the sentencing phase. As time goes on, the cases will continue to progress in courts throughout the country.


Tito's releases (not so?) ugly sweater line for the holidays, profits to charity

Tito's Handmade Vodka

Show your love for Tito's and for the community this year with a wide selection of not that ugly, uglyish, ugly, uglier, and ugliest holiday sweaters.

There's lots choose from, and plenty of accessories like scarves and socks, plus gear for your dog, too.

All of the items can be purchased online or at the Love, Tito’s Retail Store in Austin, TX. 100% of all net proceeds from online or in-store purchases go to one of the nonprofits we’ve teamed up with.

Click here to see the entire collection in the Tito's store.

Mac and Cheese Fest and Free Art Exhibit
Waterloo Greenway, Good Vibrations Installation

🗓 All weekend

🎨 Creek Show Art Exhibit

Check out this highly anticipated art exhibition with illuminated art along Waller Creek. Tickets are free and the event includes food vendors, dazzling lights, live music, and hands-on activities

All weekend 6 p.m - 10 p.m | 📍Waterloo Park

✨ Mozart's Light Show

This iconic holiday tradition lights up for the first time this holiday season starting this weekend! Reserve your spot for an enchanting light and sound performance, delicious hot cocoa, sweet treats, and some overall fun with your friends or family. The show runs till January 6th.

6 p.m and 9 p.m | 📍Mozart's Coffee Roasters - 3825 Lake Austin Blvd, Austin, TX 78703

🗓 Saturday

🥊 Kickboxing in the Park

This fitness event is free and open to the public. Get your morning started right with a "Fitness in the park" class for kickboxing! The class will be led by certified instructors and is a great way to get a cardio workout in while also honing your self-defense skills.

10 a.m - 11 a.m | 📍 Metz Park

🛍 The Front Market

Support local LBGTQ+ and female artists at this outdoor market with over 150 vendors. Get your holiday shopping out of the way at this event, with vendors for food trucks, handmade goods, raffles, hands on workshops and activities, and more.

11 a.m - 5 p.m | 📍Ani's Day and Night - 7107 E Riverside Drive, Austin, TX 78741

🗓 Sunday

🧀 Mac and Cheese Fest

Did someone say cheese?! If you're like me and always willing to get your hands on a bowl of mac and cheese, then this event is for you. Check out the Mac and Cheese festival happening this weekend to decide which vendor has. the best mac and cheese for yourself, and enjoy the bar with creative cocktails while you're at it. Tickets start at $45.

11 a.m - 3 p.m | 📍Lantana Place - 7415 Southwest Parkway