Several suspects in the Jan. 6 Capitol riot appear to be cooperating with federal prosecutors and selling each other out for plea deals, legal experts say. According to a report by The Daily Beast, some of the riot participants and organizers have been charged with "information" rather than a grand jury indictment. This typically means that they plan to plead guilty and turn over information in exchange for a favorable deal.
It has been nearly a month since President Donald Trump's supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol building and threatened the lives of those within based on false conspiracy theories. Since then, federal prosecutors have been working around the clock to get those responsible behind bars and have filed charges against more than 200 individuals so far. The rioters may be making that investigation easier as time goes on, as at least three of the suspects have been charged with an information.
An information charge typically indicates a defendant who plans to plead guilty and work with prosecutors, handing over valuable information in exchange for a lighter sentence. Criminal defense attorney Randy Zelin told Insider: "If the government is drawing up an information, and someone is working this out with the government, more often than not, that means that they're cooperating and entered into a cooperation agreement with the government."
Zelin said that this is not a guarantee — just a general trend. While it would be rare for someone to be charged with an information if they weren't cooperating with the government, it is not impossible. In any case, agreements like these are usually sealed to the public, so there is no way to know for sure.
"Generally speaking, cooperative agreements are sealed because the very essence of a cooperation agreement is that you are cooperating against someone else," Zelin said. "And the government doesn't want that other defendant to know who the co-operators are."
One person charged with an information has been identified: Matthew Mazzocco of Texas. He was arrested on Jan. 17 after he posted videos of himself at the riot online, and he was initially charged with a criminal complaint. On Thursday, Jan. 28, he was charged with an information instead.
Former Justice Department prosecutor Neama Rahman told The Daily Beast that in this case, cooperation is the most likely scenario. She said: "Cooperation is always likely in federal cases, especially here, where the U.S. Attorney's Office has both significant leverages and wants to identify the ringleaders in this sedition conspiracy, as well as other potential domestic terrorist threats. It's uncommon to have this large of a gathering of political extremists from all across the country, so the government will have a treasure trove of information and witnesses to work with."