WASHINGTON — A former U.S. Marine who also worked as a police officer in Florida pleaded guilty on Tuesday to a charge of unlawfully entering and remaining in a restricted building in connection with the Jan. 6 U.S. Capitol attack.
Nicholes Lentz, who was previously employed as an officer in North Miami Beach, was charged a year ago.
Lentz, 42, told Judge Randolph D. Moss on Tuesday that he entered the Marine Corps after graduating from high school. Several military veterans, as well as retired and active law enforcement officers, took part in the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol because they believed former President Donald Trump's lies about the 2020 presidential election.
Lentz, during a virtual court hearing on Tuesday, agreed that the Justice Department could prove that he traveled from Florida to attend former Trump's rally and unlawfully entered the Capitol grounds as well as the Capitol building. He also admitted posting a video he filmed inside the Capitol to Facebook.
“America has spoken. You can not stop millions of people. Cannot stop it. Can't. It's impossible. America has a voice. We give them the power,” Lentz said in the video. Lentz also claimed in the video that he "loved" his "boys in blue" but that there was "no way they can hold us back.”
The government reserved its right under the plea agreement to seek a terrorism sentencing enhancement by arguing that Lentz's conduct was meant to influence the actions of the government, although the Justice Department has not sought that enhancement in other Capitol cases that involved violent conduct.
Lentz told the judge that it would be best for him to plead guilty and to put the case behind him. Moss accepted the guilty plea.
The FBI has arrested more than 740 people in Jan. 6-related cases, and more than 200 have pleaded guilty. There are hundreds more cases in the pipeline. More than 2,500 people either entered the Capitol building or engaged in chargeable unlawful conduct outside the building.
Earlier on Tuesday, a judge said that Capitol defendant Jeffrey Alexander Smith should spend 90 days in prison. The government had argued for Smith to be sentenced to five months incarceration. Smith helped re-open the east side doors to the Capitol, allowing the mob to flood into the building.
Smith, echoing the words of many other Trump supporters, told Judge Reggie B. Walton on Tuesday that he "just got caught up in the moment" on Jan. 6.
“I don’t consider myself a patriot at that moment at all, I consider myself a fool,” Smith told the judge.