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Morgantown man pleads guilty to two charges from Jan. 6 riot

Morgantown resident George Tanios will be sentenced in December, following his guilty to two misdemeanor charges related to his participation in an assault on the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.

He faces a year in jail.

His guilty plea would follow several by West Virginia defendants in Jan. 6 cases. Derrick Evans, who briefly served as a West Virginia lawmaker, reported to jail at a minimum-security facility in Michigan for a term that ends in late October. Eric Barber, a former Parkersburg councilman, is set for a jail term of 45 days, starting in October.

Tanios agreed to plead guilty to the two misdemeanors Wednesday in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.

The two counts were entering and remaining in a restricted building or grounds and disorderly and disruptive conduct in a restricted building or grounds.

Previously, Tanios and his longtime friend Julian Khater were charged with nine counts, including assaulting three officers with a deadly weapon.

Khater and Tanios initially were charged together, and their case had been proceeding in

Khater’s attorney Wednesday said he, too, was presented with a possible plea deal for two separate felony counts of assaulting a federal law enforcement officer with a dangerous weapon. That could result in a jail sentence for Khater of almost two years.

Khater and his attorney want more time to discuss that possible agreement.

The mob storming the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 disrupted the constitutional duty of counting Electoral College votes and prompted the evacuations of representatives, senators and Vice President Mike Pence. One woman was fatally shot while trying to climb into the chambers, three others died from “medical emergencies” and more than 100 police officers were injured.

Tanios and Khater had been accused of collaborating to use pepperspray against U.S. Capitol police. Both had been headed for trial Oct. 6.

Tanios was accused of transporting and then passing canisters of pepperspray to Khater, who aimed it at police officers including Brian Sicknick, who later died. A medical examiner concluded that Sicknick died of natural causes after suffering two strokes.

Federal Judge Thomas Hogan went over those events with Tanios.

“Mr. Khater reaches his hand into your backpack and retrieved a white canister of bear spray. While trespassing in the restricted grounds, you encourage other rioters, you videotape the rioters assaulting police and thus engage in that disruptive conduct,” the judge said, reading a timeline of the day.

Tanios agreed that was true.

Hogan set a sentencing hearing for 11 a.m. Dec. 6, when it’s likely Tanios will make a statement about what he was thinking that day.