Former Connecticut mayoral candidate pleads guilty to Jan. 6 Capitol breach charge | World News - Hindustan Times

Former Connecticut mayoral candidate pleads guilty to Jan. 6 Capitol breach charge

AP |
Jan 13, 2024 10:12 AM IST

Former Connecticut mayoral candidate pleads guilty to Jan. 6 Capitol breach charge

A former Connecticut city alderman who won a Republican primary for mayor while facing charges related to the storming of the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, pleaded guilty Friday to a misdemeanor for his actions in Washington.

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Gino DiGiovanni Jr., who lost the November election for Derby mayor, pleaded to a trespassing charge — entering and remaining in a restricted building or grounds — during a federal court videoconference hearing. Sentencing was set for April 15. He faces up to six months in jail under federal sentencing guidelines.

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His lawyer, Martin Minnella, said the plea deal was a fair resolution of the case, given DiGiovanni wasn't violent that day. Minnella said police were holding the Capitol doors open when DiGiovanni entered the building.

“He didn't break anything. He didn't force his way in,” Minnella told The Associated Press in a phone interview Friday. “But he did remain in there when he wasn't authorized. ... This is an aberration in his life and hopefully he can turn the page.”

Minnella added: “Certainly we don’t condone the conduct of a lot of other people. It was a terrible situation that got out of control.” He said DiGiovanni was at the Capitol on Jan. 6 to “exercise his rights as a citizen.”

On Jan. 6, supporters of former President Donald Trump stormed the Capitol in an effort to stop the certification of Joe Biden's presidential election victory.

More than 1,200 defendants have been charged with Capitol riot-related federal crimes. Over 900 of them have pleaded guilty or been convicted after trials decided by a judge or jury. Approximately 750 rioters have been sentenced, with nearly two-thirds getting some term of imprisonment.

Despite his arrest in August, DiGiovanni won the Republican primary for Derby mayor in September, beating incumbent Mayor Richard Dziekan in the city of 12,400 people about 50 miles (80 kilometers) northeast of New York City. He lost the November election to Democrat Joseph DiMartino, with Dziekan running as an independent after losing the primary.

DiGiovanni pleaded guilty during a hearing in federal court in Washington. He and Minnella were in Connecticut and appeared via videoconference.

Elected as an alderman in 2021, DiGiovanni was arrested Aug. 15 after civilian online investigators found photo evidence he was part of the crowd that stormed the Capitol.

The sleuths provided their research to NBC Connecticut, WVIT-TV, which confronted DiGiovanni about it at a public meeting.

DiGiovanni acknowledged he attended the rally for Trump that day and was in the photographs taken inside the Capitol. He said he did not go to Washington to overthrow the government.

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