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May 24, 2023 - WASHINGTON – A Pennsylvania man was sentenced today in the District of Columbia for assaulting law enforcement officers and other charges for his actions on Jan. 6, 2021. His actions and the actions of others disrupted a joint session of the U.S. Congress convened to ascertain and count the electoral votes related to the presidential election.
Robert Morss, 29, of Glenshaw, Pennsylvania, was sentenced to 66 months in prison for assaulting, resisting, or impeding officers with a dangerous weapon, obstruction of an official proceeding, and robbery. Morss was convicted on August 23, 2022, following a bench trial before U.S. District Court Judge Trevor N. McFadden, who also ordered 24 months of supervised release and restitution of $2,000.
Morss was tried with co-defendants Geoffrey William Sills, 31, of Mechanicsville, Virginia, and David Lee Judd, 36, of Carrollton, Texas.
According to court documents, on Jan. 6, 2021, all three men illegally entered the Capitol grounds after earlier attending a rally at the Ellipse. They joined in the violence that occurred in the tunnel area of the Capitol’s Lower West Terrace. From approximately 2:40 p.m., law enforcement officers maintained a line at the second set of glass doors inside the tunnel leading from the inaugural platform to the entrance to the Capitol. These officers fought a group of rioters – including the defendants - inside the tunnel, protecting the doors, until approximately 3:19 p.m. when they cleared them from the tunnel. Clashes continued throughout the afternoon.
Morss joined the crowd gathering on the West Front of the Capitol grounds at approximately 2 p.m. He was wearing a vest intended to carry body armor plates and had a black knife sheath and scissors. Morss moved to the front of the line of rioters squaring off with law enforcement officers. He then attempted to steal a police-issued baton from an officer with the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD). He also removed a bike rack fence from the immediate control of an MPD sergeant, leaving no barrier between the police officers and rioters. He yelled out to several officers, “Take a look around. We are going to take our Capitol back.”
Morss then joined a line of rioters that pushed officers back and followed them up to the Lower West Terrace. At approximately 3:03 p.m., he participated in a heave-ho motion in which the rioters rocked against the police line. He wrested a riot shield from an MPD detective and passed it back in the tunnel, towards other rioters. He and others then created a wall of shields that they used to continue with the heave-ho efforts. Morss later joined several other rioters in climbing through a broken window. Morss entered an office within the Capitol, took a chair, and passed it out of the broken window to the rioters outside.
Sills joined the crowd at the West Front of the Capitol grounds at approximately 2:13 p.m. He was wearing black goggles and a black gas mask. He joined the line of rioters that pushed police officers back. Sills threw several pole-like objects at the officers as they retreated, while filming the events and posting them to social media. He then followed the retreating officers to the Lower West Terrace and into the tunnel. He wrested away a police baton from an MPD officer. A few minutes later, he exited the tunnel, holding the baton above his head. He re-entered the tunnel several minutes later, moving to the line of officers. He then pointed a flashing strobe light at the police line, disorienting officers. Sills also struck at officers with the baton, hitting at least two of them.
Judd also joined the crowd at the West Front of the Capitol Grounds. By approximately 2:43 p.m., he was in the group on the Lower West Terrace. Less than 15 minutes later, Judd was at the mouth of the tunnel, waving other rioters into the tunnel. He, too, participated in the heave-ho against the police line. Judd then stood directly outside the tunnel, receiving police riot shields from rioters inside the tunnel and passing them back to other rioters. Judd entered the tunnel at 3:07 p.m. and lit an object that appeared to be a firecracker. He threw it at the police line, where officers were fighting with other rioters to keep them out of the building. Later, after law enforcement officers cleared the tunnel, Judd joined in an attempt to push against a newly established police line.
Morss was arrested on June 11, 2021.
This case is being prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia and the Department of Justice National Security Division’s Counterterrorism Section. Valuable assistance was provided by the U.S. Attorney’s Offices for the Western District of Pennsylvania, the Eastern District of Texas, and the Eastern District of Virginia.
The cases were investigated by the FBI’s Washington, Pittsburgh, and Dallas Field Offices. Morss was identified as #147, on the FBI Washington Field Office’s seeking information photos. Valuable assistance was provided by the FBI’s Richmond Field Office, the Metropolitan Police Department and the U.S. Capitol Police.
In the 28 months since Jan. 6, 2021, more than 1,000 individuals have been arrested in nearly all 50 states for crimes related to the breach of the U.S. Capitol, including more than 320 individuals charged with assaulting or impeding law enforcement. The investigation remains ongoing.
Anyone with tips can call 1-800-CALL-FBI (800-225-5324) or visit tips.fbi.gov.
Source: DOJ Press Release