Bob’s Burgers actor Jay Johnston convicted of January 6 Capitol riot

Actor Jay Johnston, who voiced a pizzeria owner on the television series “Bob’s Burgers” and had roles in “Better Call Saul,” “Arrested Development” and the film “Anchorman,” has pleaded guilty to obstructing police at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. Johnston admitted to being part of a crowd that pushed against officers in the Lower West Terrace tunnel at the height of the insurrection, including the much-publicized incident in which a D.C. police officer screamed for help as he was crushed between rioters and a door.

Johnston, 55, pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of civil disorder during a hearing Monday before U.S. District Judge Carl J. Nichols. FBI posted first photos of Johnston in March 2021, asking for help identifying him, and a lawyer for Johnston soon contacted the agency. Johnston was then fired from “Bob’s Burgers,” the Daily Beast reported in 2021, but he wasn’t charged until June 2023, as the Justice Department worked through its backlog of potential cases against thousands of rioters.

Johnston’s sentencing was set for Oct. 7. Under his plea agreement, federal sentencing guidelines call for a sentence of eight to 14 months. But prosecutors said they will seek a longer sentence of 12 to 18 months because of the physical injuries sustained by Officer Daniel Hodges, who suffered a concussion and facial lacerations when rioters ripped off his gas mask and beat him.

On January 6, a pro-Trump mob clashed with police at the entrance to the U.S. Capitol, pushing an officer against a door and removing his mask. (Video: Status Coup via Storyful)

“I can’t remember all the different ways I was attacked,” Hodges testified in a court filing. Johnston is not charged with assault on law enforcement, but did admit to being part of the crowd that used stolen police riot shields to create a “shield wall” and yelled “heave-ho” as they repeatedly tried to overwhelm the stack of officers protecting the Capitol entrance.

As of early June, more than 1,450 people had been charged in connection with crimes at the Capitol on Jan. 6, according to the Justice Department, and more than 1,040 had pleaded guilty or been convicted at trial. The average sentence for a guilty plea to a felony is about 29 months, according to a Washington Post database, but the average sentence when civil disorder is the primary charge is about eight months.

Court records show Johnston was first captured on camera at 2 p.m. on Jan. 6, standing behind police barricades on the Capitol’s West Plaza and recording the crowd and police on his phone. When the barricades were torn down by rioters, Johnston followed the crowd to the Lower West Terrace and entered the tunnel at 3:05 p.m. He was handed a stolen police riot shield, according to the statement of facts filed in court Monday.

As rioters shouted for a “shield wall,” Johnston handed the shield directly to rioters in front of police and joined the group that was beating Hodges, court documents state. Johnston was initially pushed back toward the tunnel entrance, but made his way back into the tunnel and rejoined the group pushing against officers before leaving at 3:13 p.m.

Johnston was the voice of the character Jimmy Pesto on Fox’s “Bob’s Burgers.” He also appeared regularly on “Mr. Show with Bob and David,” an HBO sketch comedy series starring Bob Odenkirk and David Cross, and “The Sarah Silverman Show” on Comedy Central.

Leave a Comment