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Maryland man who wore 'Proud Boy' hat during Capitol riot may soon take plea

Andrew Ryan Bennett, of Howard County, Maryland, streamed himself wearing a Proud Boys hat while storming the U.S. Capitol building.

WASHINGTON — A Howard County, Maryland, man who wore a “Proud Boys” hat while livestreaming himself storming the U.S. Capitol may soon reach a plea agreement on Capitol riot charges, his lawyer said in court Thursday.

Andrew Ryan Bennett, of Columbia, Maryland, appeared virtually in district court Thursday for a status hearing on the charges against him. He faces four counts stemming from his participation in the January 6 Capitol riot, including violent entry and disorderly and disruptive conduct in a restricted building.

Bennett was arrested in January after federal investigators say they received multiple tips alerting them to four videos Bennett had livestreamed on his Facebook page. The videos appeared to show him wearing a baseball hat with a Proud Boys motto on it while joining in chants of “break it down” during the Capitol riot. Court documents indicate Bennett may have been streaming nearby when Air Force veteran Ashli Babbitt was shot and killed during an attempt to breach the Speaker’s Lobby.

A search warrant was executed on Bennett's house on Jan. 11. The affidavit says that Bennett admitted to federal agents during an interview that he was inside the Capitol on Jan. 6 and even called it "wrong."

"During the execution of the search warrant, agents interviewed Bennett and he stated that he had traveled alone to Washington, D.C. on January 6, 2021, arriving around 6:00am and later entered into the U.S. Capitol building with a crowd," the affidavit said. "Bennett told agents that he knew it was wrong to do so."

During a hearing Thursday morning, Justice Department attorney Seth Adam Meinero told U.S. District Court Judge James E. Boasberg that the DOJ believed it was close to negotiating a plea agreement with Bennett.

“We’ve discussed the parameters of what a plea agreement for Mr. Bennett might look like,” Meinero said. “There are some preliminary conditions of a plea offer that Mr. Bennett has agreed to, but we need to continue discussing them next week.”

Bennett’s attorney, Carlos Vanegas, agreed, saying the two sides have made “substantial progress” on negotiations.

Meinero asked for a 60-day continuance of the case, saying he believed a plea agreement was possible within as little as 45 days.

Bennett wasn’t the only Maryland defendant in court this week on Capitol riot charges. On Wednesday, Nicholas Rodean, of Frederick, appeared virtually before U.S. District Court Judge Trevor McFadden. Rodean, who was photographed carrying a “Trump is My President” flag through the Capitol, faces eight counts, including obstructing an official proceeding, destruction of government property and engaging in physical violence in a restricted building.

Rodean was assigned an October 18 court date on Wednesday. Bennett’s next court hearing is scheduled for July 22 at 10 a.m.

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