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Feds say Utahn involved in U.S. Capitol riot poses danger to community

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John Sullivan, 26, of Sandy, was charged Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2021, in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., with being on restricted property, civil disorder and violent entry or disorderly conduct in connection with riots at the U.S. Capitol.

Tooele County Jail

Federal prosecutors in Washington are seeking to keep a Utah man involved in the riot at the U.S. Capitol behind bars pending trial, arguing that he poses a danger to the community.

Prosecutors say John Earle Sullivan, of Sandy, was a “brazen, vocal” participant in the disruption and disorder surrounding the events of Jan. 6. They argue he has repeatedly flouted conditions a federal judge in Utah placed on him for release after his arrest last month.

“He breached the U.S. Capitol in tactical gear, wound his way to the front of numerous crowds and confrontations, and cheered and attempted to instigate others in committing criminal acts,” assistant U.S. attorney Candice Wong wrote.

“That even in hindsight he feels no remorse for his participation in the events that unfolded underscored the ongoing threat he poses to the community.”

Federal agents arrested Sullivan on Jan. 14 in Tooele County. He is charged with being on restricted property, civil disorder and violent entry or disorderly conduct.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Daphne Oberg in Salt Lake City released him the next day with a long list of conditions, including restrictions on his internet and social media use and that he no longer work for Insurgence USA, a social justice group he founded that calls itself anti-fascist and protests police brutality.

Sullivan’s case was transferred from Utah to Washington on Thursday.

Among the alleged pretrial release violations prosecutors cite in documents filed Thursday in federal court in Washington is Sullivan’s appearance last week on InfoWars, a far-right conspiracy theory and fake news website. 

Sullivan purportedly requested the Insurgence USA website be plugged on the show so people could “follow” him and the organization, court documents say.

During the interview, Sullivan denied having any regrets for his actions at the Capitol, saying, “I stand by my actions and what I do” and “I am definitely not responsible for anything that took place that day.” He said he built his company for documenting those kinds of events, according to court papers.

Prosecutors also allege Sullivan logged into three Twitter accounts belonging to him that the Utah judge had banned him from accessing. They say he also bought a cellphone with internet capabilities in an attempt to find alternatives to Facebook, a platform the judge had prohibited him from using.

“These violations only underscore that there are serious risks that this defendant will obstruct or attempt to obstruct justice and that he continues to pose a recurring threat to the safety of the community,” Wong wrote.

Sullivan attended a rally in Washington held by supporters of President Donald Trump outside the Capitol. The group “expressly stated that their purpose was to stop or disrupt” the certification of the Electoral College vote of the 2020 presidential election, the charges say.

Furthermore, federal investigators say that Sullivan could be frequently heard encouraging the crowd inside the Capitol.

Sullivan has said he was only there to document the event. But even though he “claimed to be an activist and journalist that filmed protests and riots,” he also admitted “that he has no press credentials and the investigation has not revealed any connection between Sullivan and any journalistic organizations,” according to charging documents.