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Actor Jay Johnston attends “The Sarah Silverman Program” presented by The Paley Center for Media on May 2, 2008 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Neilson Barnard/Getty Images)

OAN’s Brooke Mallory
4:27 PM – Monday, July 8, 2024

On Monday, an actor and comedian who portrayed a news reporter in the film Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy, who was also the voice of a pizzeria owner in the TV show Bob’s Burgers, entered a guilty plea for allegedly interfering with law enforcement officials’ “efforts to defend the U.S. Capitol” on January 6th, 2021.

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Jay Johnston, 55, of Los Angeles, entered a guilty plea to the crime of “civil disorder,” which carries a potential five-year prison sentence.

Johnston is due to be sentenced by U.S. District Judge Carl Nichols on October 7th.

As they exited the courtroom, Stanley Woodward, Johnston’s attorney, instructed his client not to speak with the media.

Johnston, who was taken into custody in June last month, is among the almost 1,400 individuals accused of federal offenses related to the breach of the U.S. Capitol on January 6th.

According to an FBI agent’s affidavit, the FBI claims that video footage shows Johnston pushing against police and assisting protesters in a tunnel on the Lower West Terrace. On January 6th, Johnston had been carrying a stolen police shield over his head, which he later handed over to other protesters for protection since they were being tear-gassed.

Some sources have also alleged that Johnston later handed the shield back to police officers, however, this claim has not been confirmed.

The actor and comedian “was [allegedly] close to the entrance to the tunnel, turned back, and signaled for other rioters to come towards the entrance,” the agent claimed.

Prosecutors further claimed that Johnston, dressed in a dark leather jacket and green camouflage neck gaiter, “participated with other rioters in a group assault on the officers” and then “joined other rioters in pushing repeatedly against the defending police officers” in the video.

“The rioters coordinated the timing of the pushes by yelling ‘Heave! Ho!’” prosecutors stated while posting screen grabs of the footage.

Johnston was a voiceover actor who played the role of Jimmy Pesto in the Fox cartoon television series Bob’s Burgers. However, following the Capitol protest, Johnston was “banned” from the cartoon series, according to a 2021 Daily Beast article.

Johnston also made an appearance on the HBO sketch comedy series Mr. Show with Bob and David, which stars actors David Cross and Bob Odenkirk. In addition, he has brief roles in the Will Ferrell film Anchorman and the television series Arrested Development.

Before relocating to Los Angeles, Johnston, who was originally born in Chi-town, began his comedic career performing improv at The Second City and Annoyance Theater in Chicago, CBS Chicago reported.

According to the FBI agent, three of Johnston’s “associates,” both present and past, recognized him as a suspect based on pictures that the FBI posted online. Johnston later confirmed being in the Capitol on January 6th in a text message that investigators received from one of the associates.

“The news has presented it as an attack. It actually wasn’t. Though it kind of turned into that. It was a mess. Got maced and tear gassed and I found it quite untastic,” Johnston said in a message, according to the FBI.

Last month, the Justice Department’s use of a federal obstruction statute against numerous individuals who walked into the building was limited by the Supreme Court’s decision to rule in favor of a former Pennsylvania police officer who was accused of obstructing an official proceeding after he entered the U.S. Capitol during the protest.

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