A Twitter rumor stirred up hope that one of the men who joined the attack on the U.S. Capitol in January 2021 was headed for prison, but the claim does not hold up in light of recent reporting on the case.
On May 11 2021 the user reposted the now-infamous photograph of Richard Barnett sitting at House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s desk during the riot alongside the claim:
SEVEN YEARS IN FEDERAL PRISON.
As Richard Barnett’s family burned through their life’s savings in legal fees, sold both their cars and their house …he has now turned to a Public Defender who has worked out a plea deal of 82 months NO PAROLE.
I hope this idiot enjoyed himself
SEVEN YEARS IN FEDERAL PRISON.
As Richard Barnett's family burned through their life's savings in legal fees, sold both their cars and their house …he has now turned to a Public Defender who has worked out a plea deal of 82 months NO PAROLE.
I hope this idiot enjoyed himself pic.twitter.com/HOKWtb0fPP
— Mo Bella – 2, 4, 6, 8 Everybody Vac Cin Ate (@Mocraig13) May 11, 2021
Barnett faces federal charges for his involvement in the riot, including obstruction of an official proceeding; “disorderly and disruptive conduct” in a restricted building or grounds, as well as disorderly conduct in a Capitol building; and theft of government property among others. He has pleaded not guilty.
He was one of around a thousand supporters of then-outgoing U.S. President Donald Trump who attacked the Capitol building in defense of conspiracy theories falsely claiming that he was the victim of “voter fraud.” In the midst of the attack he was photographed in Pelosi’s office and wrote “biatd” — a misspelling of a varation on the insult “bitch” — on a piece of stationary on her desk.
In late April 2021, KNTA-TV reported that Barnett had been released from prison and scheduled for a status conference on his case that June.
Barnett was released to home detention and required to wear an ankle monitor; he was also forbidden from traveling outside of a 50-mile radius and barred from possessing weapons of any kind — including firearms — as well as “associating” with anyone who took part in the insurrection attempt and from obtaining a new passport.
The tweet promoting the “plea deal” was shared several thousand times on the platform. We contacted the account asking for confirmation on this claim, but we did not hear back. However, four days prior to the post, a story in the New York Times indicated that no agreement had been worked out:
At a recent hearing for Richard Barnett, an Arkansas man perhaps best known for being photographed with his feet propped up on a desk in Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office, prosecutors said that they had offered a deal that could result in a sentence of 70 to 87 months in prison. Mr. Barnett’s lawyer, Steven Metcalf, later said he was disappointed with the proposal and could not understand why the government was offering so much time to a man who had not broken anything nor hurt anyone inside the Capitol.
We contacted the U.S. Justice Department seeking comment. However, there is no indication that Barnett will be on his way to prison prior to his next date in court.