Former Capitol Police officer convicted of obstruction in Jan. 6 investigation

A jury found Michael Riley, 51, guilty of a single count of obstruction of justice following his trial in federal court for the District of Columbia.

 A general view of the Public hearing of the US House Select Committee to investigate the January 6 Attack on the U.S. Capitol, on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., July 12, 2022.  (photo credit: REUTERS/ELIZABETH FRANTZ)
A general view of the Public hearing of the US House Select Committee to investigate the January 6 Attack on the U.S. Capitol, on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., July 12, 2022.
(photo credit: REUTERS/ELIZABETH FRANTZ)

A former US Capitol Police officer was convicted on Friday of obstructing an FBI investigation into the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol by deleting Facebook messages he sent to a rioter afterward, federal prosecutors said.

A jury found Michael Riley, 51, guilty of a single count of obstruction of justice following his trial in federal court for the District of Columbia, a US Attorney's Office spokesman said.

Jurors deadlocked on a second obstruction of justice count against Riley, prosecutors said. US District Judge Amy Berman Jackson declared a mistrial on that charge.

The obstruction of justice conviction carries a statutory maximum of 20 years in prison, although federal sentencing guidelines typically call for less time behind bars.

"Michael Riley never obstructed any grand jury proceeding, nor did he attempt or intend to do so," his attorney, Christopher Macchiaroli, said in a written statement.

AN EXPLOSION caused by a police munition is seen as supporters of then-US president Donald Trump riot in front of the Capitol Building, January 6, 2021. (credit: LEAH MILLIS/REUTERS)AN EXPLOSION caused by a police munition is seen as supporters of then-US president Donald Trump riot in front of the Capitol Building, January 6, 2021. (credit: LEAH MILLIS/REUTERS)

"Michael Riley never obstructed any grand jury proceeding, nor did he attempt or intend to do so."

Christopher Macchiaroli

Macchiaroli said Riley intended to raise legal challenges to the verdict with the trial court and in future possible appeals.

What the prosecutor said

Prosecutors say Riley was not on duty at the Capitol Building in Washington on Jan. 6 but became aware of the events there. Seeing that a Facebook "friend" was involved, he messaged the man, telling him to take down what could be seen as incriminating posts.

Riley deleted the messages after learning that the FBI had been in contact with his Facebook friend. The two men had not met in person.

Supporters of Donald Trump stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, after he delivered a fiery speech at a rally near the White House claiming that his defeat in the 2020 presidential election by Joe Biden was the result of fraud.