Bryan Betancur told his probation officer that he was handing out Bibles on January 6

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As authorities say, convicted burglar Bryan Betancur made what seemed like a reasonable request to Maryland probation officials days before the insurrection at the United States Capitol. Banned from leaving the state without permission, he requested to visit the district on January 6, 2021, so he could distribute Bibles on behalf of the Christian group The Gideons International.

Maryland’s parole and probation division said okay.

“Betancur provided [his] probation officer with updates throughout the day and announced that he would not be home at the normal time of curfew,” a federal prosecutor said in a court filing.

In a recent plea deal, Betancur admitted that its story about distributing the Good Book was a ruse. Instead, wearing a shirt bearing the logo of the Proud Boys, a far-right group with a history of violence, he attended Donald Trump’s incendiary rally on the Ellipse, after which Betancur took to task. stormed the Capitol with an angry mob of other Trump supporters trying to stop Congress from affirming Joe Biden’s election victory, according to the US Attorney’s Office in Washington.

Betancur, described by the FBI as a white supremacist who lived with his mother in Silver Spring, Maryland, was sentenced Wednesday to four months behind bars for participating in the riot. While his age is unclear (prosecutors say he’s 24; his attorney says 22), there was no dispute in DC’s US District Court regarding his whereabouts on January 6. .

What helped give him away: On the day of the uprising, he wore a GPS tracking device that had been affixed to one of his ankles by probation officers after he was released from incarceration in a burglary case in Maryland.

Defense attorney Ubong E. Akpan, in seeking a one-month federal sentence, wrote to Judge Timothy J. Kelly that his client, who pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge, believed “a lie advertised to millions – that former Vice President Mike Pence had the power to overturn the ‘fraudulent election'” during congressional proceedings on Jan. 6. Akpan added that Betancur “is struggling with issues of mental health, which he cannot and cannot bring himself to discuss. Instead, he puts on a brave face.

Efforts to reach Akpan for comment after Wednesday’s sentencing hearing were unsuccessful.

Prosecutor Maria Y. Fedor sought a six-month sentence in her sentencing note, saying Betancur’s Jan. 6 visit to Washington was not the first time he lied to probation officials to get the permission to leave Maryland. After getting permission to distribute Bibles to the Gideons in DC a month earlier on Dec. 12, he participated in the Proud Boys’ violent pro-Trump rally in the district that day, Fedor said.

At the Capitol, she wrote, Betancur “climbed scaffolding and then entered a sensitive area,” that is, the ST-2M Senate Boardroom, and helped the rioters “to remove furniture from the ST-2M, which was likely used as weapons in the nearby Lower West Terrace Tunnel” during a clash with police. In addition to tracking its movements with videos, photographs and other evidence from social media, Fedor wrote, investigators used GPS data to show that Betancur had entered restricted areas of the Capitol.

He pleaded guilty in May to one count of disorderly conduct in a restricted building or land. He is among more than 800 defendants who have been charged in the Capitol insurgency, more than 200 of whom have been convicted.

“Betancur told law enforcement that he was a member of multiple white supremacist organizations,” an FBI agent wrote in a court affidavit. “Betancur has expressed murderous ideas, commented on the conduct of a school shooting, and researched mass shootings. … Betancur said he wanted to run over people with a vehicle and kill people in a church.

Akpan, the defense lawyer, described him as a lonely person – the product of an abusive childhood that gravitated to far-right groups out of a desire for community, a place where he felt wanted.

Fedor described a conversation Betancur had with authorities during plea negotiations.

“When asked if he regretted the decisions he made on January 6, 2021, Betancur said he was not living a life of regrets,” she wrote. “However, he added that he only regrets that the actions he has taken now prevent him from joining the US Army. Betancur wanted to join the US Army because of the sense of brotherhood. is unable to join the US military, Betancur said he might try to join another country’s military or become a mercenary.


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