North Florida prison guard loses job, housing after guilty plea in U.S. Capitol riot

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This photo of Jonathan Daniel Carlton holding a souvenir newspaper front was included in an FBI report called a statement of facts that was filed in federal court in Washington.
This photo of Jonathan Daniel Carlton holding a souvenir newspaper front was included in an FBI report called a statement of facts that was filed in federal court in Washington.

A North Florida prison guard has been fired after pleading guilty to a misdemeanor for his part in the Jan. 6, 2021 riot at the U.S. Capitol, a court filing shows.

Jonathan Daniel Carlton, who worked at Union Correctional Institution in Raiford, “is now not only unemployed, but he will lose his subsidized housing that was provided as part of his employment,” defense attorney Richard Landes wrote in a memo to the judge in Washington scheduled to pass sentence June 29.

Carlton, 46, pleaded guilty in March to parading, demonstrating or picketing in a Capitol building in return for prosecutors dropping three other misdemeanor counts.

He could face up to six months behind bars, but Landes argued that probation and community service would be more appropriate.

“As a corrections officer, if Carlton is sentenced to any term of incarceration, he would necessarily need to be housed in protective custody, essentially locked down for 23 or more hours a day, as he would be a target in jail,” Landes wrote to U.S. District Judge Thomas F. Hogan, calling that option “unduly harsh.”

Florida's Department of Corrections didn't respond Tuesday to a reporter's email asking about Carlton's dismissal.

The memo, filed early this month, parallels arguments from a Congressional committee in arguing that former President Donald Trump stirred up supporters like Carlton by spreading false claims of voter fraud.

“While Carlton accepts responsibility for his actions, he was guided and urged every step of the way by no less of an authority than the former President of the United States and a majority of Republican Senators and Congressman that continued to repeat the 'Big Lie' that the election had been stolen by the Democrats,” Landes told the judge.

A campus newspaper for George Washington University, the GW Hatchet, reported after the riot that it interviewed Carlton outside the Capitol, where he said he was “here to certify the fraud that occurred without a reasonable doubt in seven states during the election.”

Landes wrote that his client, who had traveled to Washington with a friend for a Trump rally, lined up with other people trying to enter the Capitol then changed his mind.

“He had wanted to turn around; but by that time, it was too late. Carlton was literally pushed inside the Capitol, fell beside an overturned desk and injured his leg. He was helped up by a Capitol Police Officer,” the attorney wrote.

One police officer and four civilians died as a result of the melee at the Capitol, where Trump supporters overran the closed building and for several hours shut down a meeting of Congress to certify President Joe Biden’s victory in the November 2020 election.

Landes told Carlton’s judge that his client entered the Capitol focused on finding his friend, Baker County resident Bradley Weeks, who is still facing charges from the riot. He wrote that the men connected inside and “are seen on video simply walking around the Capitol for a time before peacefully exited [sic] the building.”

Prosecutors will also file a memo making their recommendations for Carlton’s sentence, but they hadn’t done so by Tuesday.

This article originally appeared on Florida Times-Union: Prison guard fired, loses housing over guilty plea in U.S. Capitol riot