Two downstate men charged in January’s U.S. Capitol breach “feel extreme remorse” about their role in the riot that interrupted the Electoral College vote count and led to what might be the largest criminal probe in U.S. history, their attorney told the Chicago Sun-Times.
Federal prosecutors earlier this month filed charges in connection with the riot against Bruce J. Harrison and Douglas K. Wangler. The men are from the Danville area, and Wangler apparently claims a connection to an obscure Star Wars character.
“If they could do it all over again, they would not have gone,” attorney Baku Patel said earlier this week of his clients. “It wasn’t what they thought it was going to be.”
Patel entered a not guilty plea on the pair’s behalf during their first virtual hearing Friday before a judge in Washington D.C. The move is routine early in a criminal case, and Patel insists his clients have been cooperative and have “nothing to hide.”
Wangler and Harrison are at least the seventh and eighth Illinoisans charged in connection with the U.S. Capitol riot, which has led to criminal charges against hundreds of people around the country. Documents allege Wangler can be seen in an 11-second video standing in the Capitol Crypt, pumping his right fist in the air and chanting, “U.S.A.”
“If walking around and singing some patriotic songs is a crime, then I guess I am guilty,” Wangler allegedly told someone later.
An FBI agent also viewed surveillance footage from the Capitol, spotting Wangler with Harrison, who later told authorities he wore a New England Patriots jacket that day because of its patriotic colors. Videos allegedly showed Wangler and Harrison entering and exiting the Capitol, but an agent wrote that “none of the videos I reviewed depict Wangler or Harrison damaging property or participating in other violent acts.”
The men spoke to the FBI in Urbana April 15, court records show.
Patel said the men went to Washington D.C. to see a speech by then-President Donald Trump and also hoped that “a little history was going to be made.” He said, “They did not go under any circumstances to disrupt” the government, though. He also said the men were “following the herd” when they entered the Capitol and spent about 10 minutes there.
The men told the FBI they entered through “wide-open doors” where they saw people freely going in, including “what appeared to be family groups,” according to court records. But Harrison acknowledged he could see windows had been broken and glass had been scattered on the ground, authorities said.
Wangler’s Facebook account is identified in the criminal complaint filed against the two men. The profile was no longer available Friday. But several posts viewed previously by the Sun-Times made reference to an obscure Star Wars character named Quinlan Vos, who made appearances in “The Phantom Menace” as well as in “The Clone Wars,” according to the Star Wars website.
The character bears a resemblance to Wangler, based on photographs on the Facebook page.
When asked about the posts, Patel said Wangler once worked for Disney as a model and called it a “paid gig.” Disney representatives did not immediately respond to a request for comment about the connection Friday.