WASHINGTON — A military veteran who re-enlisted in the U.S. Army after he stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6 pleaded guilty to a federal charge on Friday, admitting that he pepper sprayed police officers.
James Mault was photographed wearing a helmet with an iron workers union sticker, identified by local union officials and subsequently lost his job, according to court documents.
He was interviewed by the FBI on Jan. 18, 2021, according to court documents. But months later, Mault was allowed to reenlist in the U.S. Army, according to military records, even as his photo was featured on the FBI's Capitol Violence webpage.
Mault and his friend, Cody Mattice, pleaded guilty Friday to a felony count of assaulting, impeding, or resisting officers performing official duties. Mault and Mattice could face a maximum sentence of eight years in federal prison for the felony charge.
Mault, wearing an orange prison jumpsuit and a black face mask, admitted to the judge that he advised Mattice to bring weapons to the Capital on Jan. 6 and taunted police officers and encouraged them to join rioters.
Mault also admitted he was part of a mob that forced officers to retreat and obtained a can of chemical spray that he used against officers in the tunnel.
In October, after the FBI realized that Mault had been caught on tape assaulting officers, he and Mattice, were charged. Mault was arrested at Fort Bragg in North Carolina, where he was working as an artillery cannon crew member.
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Mault had previously enlisted in the military in 2013, and was an active-duty soldier until 2016, according to military records. He served in the Army reserve between 2016 and 2020.
"His re-enlistment in the Army came after the apparent loss of the job he had been doing in New York because of his participation in the events of 6 January 2021,” a federal magistrate judge in an order to keep Mault detained pretrial.
Mault entered his guilty plea before Chief Judge Beryl A. Howell in a federal courtroom in Washington, D.C. on Friday afternoon. He and Mattice have both been detained pretrial.
Mault joins more than 250 Jan. 6 defendants who have pleaded guilty in the 15 months since the Capitol attack, when a mob tried to block former President Donald Trump electoral defeat. Nearly 800 defendants have been charged out of a universe of more than 2,500 people who could face charges for either unlawfully entering the Capitol or assaulting law enforcement. As NBC News has reported, hundreds of additional Capitol rioters have been identified by online sleuths but have not yet been arrested by the FBI.