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Charges drag on but attorneys expect more convictions in 2022 over Jan. 6 riots

Capitol riots
Posted at 7:23 PM, Jan 06, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-06 20:31:17-05

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — It’s been called the largest and most complex investigation in the history of the country's justice department.

Not just the number of people involved, but for the mountains of evidence, photos, and videos were taken just outside of the nation’s Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.

Defense attorney Jerry Summers has practiced law for decades, but can’t remember another crime that was so visible.

“It’s just like you were standing there watching it yourself,” Summers said.

More than 725 people were charged for crimes ranging from disorderly and disruptive conduct to assaulting law enforcement officers.

Seventeen Tennessee residents were charged and all but four were released while they waited for trial, while three people have since pleaded guilty to charges that offered probation.

“Under the federal sentencing guidelines, every prior crime adds points up as to what kind of potential sentence you may have,” Summers said.

Still many have raised questions as to why the road to convictions has taken well over a year. Former federal prosecutor Alex Little turned partner for Burr and Foreman, says part of the delay has to do with starting from the bottom and building to the top.

“You gather information. You flip cooperators until you get enough information and enough cooperating witnesses to go after the people at the top of the pyramid,” Little said.

That means anyone who helped plan or even instigate the riot, could be charged with conspiracy. Including, but not limited to former President Donald Trump.

“That’s what’s taking the most time. That’s what’s making this most difficult for prosecutors,” Little said.

About 165 people have already pleaded guilty, although some have criticized Attorney General Merrick Garland for not doing enough. Garland called the breach an “unprecedented attack on our democracy” and indicated on Wednesday that prosecutions were far from over.

“The actions we have taken thus far will not be our last,” Garland said.

As pressure builds and more serious charges pile on, both Summers and Little predict some will begin to accept plea agreements in 2022.

The FBI is still searching for more than 350 people who may have been involved.