Edgar Welch, the gunman who took over a Washington, D.C. pizzeria over a viral fake news story in December, pleaded guilty on Friday on multiple charges related to the incident. In doing so, he pleaded guilty to a federal charge of transporting firearms and ammunition across state lines and a local charge of assault with a dangerous weapon. Each offense carries a maximum sentence of 10 years, although it’s likely that he’ll end up serving smaller, consecutive sentences that could total 7 years behind bars.
Welch made headlines in December when he entered Comet Ping Pong with an assault rifle while demanding answers about a fake conspiracy involving a child-sex traffic ring. The story turned out to be false, and Welch was arrested for brandishing an AR-15 rifle and revolver while in the restaurant. The Pizzagate scandal ignited a firestorm of controversy, as it took on a life of its own, with former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn believing and promoting the story.
But now, Welch is being held accountable for his actions. During the Friday hearing, U.S. District Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson asked Welch if he transported weapons from his home in North Carolina to the Washington, D.C. pizzeria. Welch admitted he had done so and pleaded guilty to the charges. The prosecution argued Welch had the intention to get into a violent encounter and The Post notes that the charges could land Welch in jail for a long time, but it could have been worse:
Each count carries a maximum statutory penalty of 10 years in prison, but prosecutors and Welch’s federal defender agreed that nonbinding guidelines would likely call for a federal sentence of 18 to 24 months and a District penalty of 18 to 60 months, which could run consecutively. The sides did not agree on a sentencing recommendation … Prosecutors agreed to drop a District charge of possessing a firearm while committing a crime of violence, which carried a 15-year maximum penalty.
Welch’s sentencing is scheduled to occur on June 22.
(Via The Washington Post)