CHICAGO (CBS) — A Chicago man pleaded guilty Friday to participating in the Capitol riot on Jan. 6 of last year.
Court records confirmed that Athanasios Zoyganeles pleaded guilty to marching, demonstrating, or picketing a Capitol building.
Zoyganeles was indicted in February after the FBI spent more than a year building his case using social media. Zoyganeles also spoke with CBS 2 the same day he was arrested and insisted he had done nothing wrong.
“They’re trying to make me a super villain, and that’s not the truth,” he said.
Zoyganeles said in February that he had committed no crime on January 6, 2021 when he visited Washington, D.C.
“I was with the people, and I went up to the Capitol, went to the door and left,” Zoyganeles said.
But federal prosecutors said they had evidence to prove otherwise. A criminal complaint said a tipster provided the FBI with a screenshot of Zoyganeles’ Facebook page, and the tipster also said ‘this guy’ walked into the Capitol and posted a ‘very scary’ video of him in the Capitol saying, “Nazis, where are you?”
The tipster said Zoyganeles was part of a group that visited offices during the riot and was seen in the video saying, ‘Let’s clean up’, before going through books and files, according to the complaint .
On January 17 last year, a second tipster directed the FBI to a video on Zoyganeles’ Facebook page and sent a screenshot, according to the complaint. The tipster said the video was taken on the steps of the Capitol and the screenshot showed faces in the crowd, according to the complaint.
A third informant then called the FBI said Zoyganeles entered the Capitol on January 6, 2021, according to the complaint.
Meanwhile, an investigation showed that Zoyganeles referenced events on Capitol Hill on Jan. 6 in public Facebook posts, according to the complaint.
The complaint further states that recordings obtained from Facebook also revealed that on two separate live videos posted by other users, Zoyganeles commented, “We have to take over the capital building (sic) tomorrow,” while only the next day, in response to a concerned Facebook user. , he wrote that he “rushed into the capital (sic) and lost everyone I was with[.]”
The complaint said in the same conversation, Zoyganeles added: “No, I was tear gassed and they were throwing flash shots at me but I always stayed on the front line. It wasn’t easy but we got it. do.”
The FBI also found publicly available video in which Zoyganeles is seen standing outside the Capitol’s parliamentary doors while smoking a cigarette and holding a piece of wood, according to the complaint. The video also shows him walking through the parliamentary doors and taking pictures or video of the other side, prosecutors said.
In October 2021, the FBI met with a close family member of Zoyganeles, who identified him in footage of the Capitol insurgency, according to the complaint.
Speaking to CBS 2 in February, Zoyganeles did not acknowledge any of the social media photos and videos that appear in the federal criminal complaint.
“There were a million other people there – and why did they choose me over all the others?” he said.
In the Chicago area, more than a dozen defendants have been charged with participating in the Capitol Riot.