Idaho man who sat in Pence's chair pleads guilty to Capitol riot charge

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - An Idaho man who sat in then-Vice President Mike Pence's chair during the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol pleaded guilty on Wednesday to a criminal charge of obstructing an official proceeding.

Josiah Colt, a 35-year-old resident of Meridian, Idaho could face a sentence of up to 30 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000, federal prosecutors said. They said that as part of his plea agreement, Colt agreed to cooperate with the investigation of the deadly attack.

More than 535 people have been arrested with taking part in the Jan. 6 violence, when supporters of former President Donald Trump smashed windows, fought with police and sent lawmakers and Pence scrambling for safety in a failed bid to stop Congress from certifying Trump's election defeat.

Prosecutors said Colt entered the Capitol and headed to the U.S. Senate chamber, where he and other rioters forced their way past police into the gallery not long after senators were evacuated.

He then entered the Senate floor and ran to a chair reserved for the U.S. vice president, who sometimes presides over the Senate. Colt subsequently posted a video on Facebook in which he claimed to have been the first Capitol rioter to sit in a chair reserved for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

Prosecutors said Colt traveled to Washington with two other men charged with riot-related offences who have pleaded not guilty. While preparing to travel, Colt bought a helmet and a gas mask, and that he and fellow participants also brought body armor, a handheld stun gun, an expandable baton, walkie talkies, and bear mace to Washington.

Prosecutors said Colt left his gun in his hotel but wore protective gear when he went to the Capitol.

(Reporting By Mark Hosenball; Editing by Scott Malone and Alistair Bell)

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