Indianz.Com > News > Self-proclaimed Native Republican sentenced to prison for U.S. Capitol attack
Jorge Aaron Riley
Jorge Aaron Riley, center, exits the U.S. Courthouse in Washington, D.C, following his guilty plea on March 7, 2023. Photo by Indianz.Com (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0)
Self-proclaimed Native Republican sentenced to prison for U.S. Capitol attack
Jorge Riley finally admits knowing little about supposed heritage
Thursday, September 14, 2023

WASHINGTON, D.C. — A self-proclaimed Native Republican who admitted to breaking the law when he participated in the violent attack on the U.S. Capitol is headed to federal prison.

Jorge Aaron Riley was sentenced in federal court in Washington, D.C, on September 6. He was ordered to serve 18 months in prison, followed by 24 months of supervised release, according to online records, which state that he must “self-surrender” for his upcoming punishment.

Prior to the sentencing hearing, Riley’s attorney urged no prison time. A memorandum filed in court on September 1 described the criminal defendant as a “disabled veteran” who came to the nation’s capital on January 6, 2021, at the behest of Republican former president Donald Trump.

“Mr. Riley traveled to Washington and entered the Capitol at the urging of the President of the United States, whom he regarded as his Commander-in-Chief, because he believed the President’s claim that the 2020 election was stolen,” the defense’s sentencing memorandum reads.

The filing further suggested that Riley might even be absolved his crime — by the very same person who encouraged the violent attack on the legislative branch of the United States government. Just last month, Trump was indicted for instigating what’s been called “an unprecedented assault on the seat of American democracy.”

“More than two and a half years later, even with the former President under felony indictments in this district and elsewhere, millions of Americans continue to believe this claim and hope that President Trump will retake the White House, where he has vowed to pardon all the protestors he encouraged to come to Washington on January 6,” Riley’s attorney wrote.

The filing also elaborated — for the first time — on Riley’s supposed Native background. According to the defense attorney, the criminal defendant has little to no idea about his alleged heritage.

“He is an American Indian. He never knew his biological father and knows nothing about him today,” the memorandum reads.

Beyond describing himself as “French-speaking Native American Messianic Jewish right-wing conservative Republican” Riley has not stated whether he belongs to any tribal nation. His attorney’s use of “American Indian” in federal court is unusual in that term is typically used in cases in which a defendant belongs to a federally recognized tribe or is considered to be part of a tribal community.

On March 7, Riley returned to Washington, D.C., for the first time since the riot and pleaded guilty to aiding the obstruction of an official proceeding. He admitted that he intended to stop the certification of the November 2020 presidential election that Trump lost to Democratic candidate Joe Biden.

Riley was accompanied to the hearing in March by his partner and his mother, both of whom are non-Native and who appeared in photographs taken by Indianz.Com outside the federal courthouse. He shares a child with his partner, who had asked that no prison time be imposed.

“If Jorge is not present at home, it will tremendously burden us,” his partner Kellie Sue Morgan wrote in a letter submitted in court. [PDF: Jorge Aaron Riley Letters of Support]

The letter depicted Riley as a supportive parent to the couple’s daughter, who was “born in May 2022” — well after he had been indicted for the criminal uprising. Morgan further claimed that her partner had not been “violent” during the U.S. Capitol attack, even though he entered the building with illegal intentions.

“Hey We’re storming the Capitol…. what are you doing?” Riley boasted on social media, where he had posted updates of his exploits on January 6.

Federal prosecutors painted a different portrait of Riley, noting that right after his sentencing hearing, he attended a vigil for fellow defendants outside of a jail in D.C. Video from the event shows him standing by a “Prisoner of War – J6 – You Are Not Forgotten” flag that appropriates POW imagery, while wearing the same suit he donned in court.

“Attending an event that openly refers to judges and prosecutors as ‘criminals’ and January 6 defendants as ‘political prisoners’ immediately after pleading guilty hardly constitutes ‘acceptance of responsibility,'” the government’s sentencing memorandum reads.

Jorge Aaron Riley
A still image shows Jorge Aaron Riley attending a “J6” vigil outside of the District of Columbia jail on March 7, 2023, just hours after he pleaded guilty for his role in the January 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol. He’s in the same suit and the same “Trump tie” that he wore to his court hearing earlier in the day.

The filing also rehashed Riley’s well documented criminal past from his home state of California, where he has pleaded guilty to domestic violence and child abuse stemming from incidents involving a former partner and the child they share together. He has another case of child cruelty that is still pending.

“Riley’s crimes on January 6 were not an isolated event in an otherwise law-abiding life, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia stated. “They came, instead, after a long series of arrests and offenses involving possessing dangerous weapons, abusing alcohol, and abusing his family. In fact, Riley committed this crime while on release in his pending child cruelty case.”

Riley spoke little at his sentencing hearing in March but government attorneys noted that he told U.S. District Court Judge Amit P. Mehta that he “wore his best Trump tie” to the proceeding, a detail Indianz.Com reported at the time. He also tied feathers of some sort into his hair — repeating what he had done at the U.S. Capitol more than two years prior. Missing was the fake war paint on his face.

'Trump Indictment Celebration Tour'
A sign reading “Trump Indictment Celebration Tour” is seen outside of the federal courthouse in Washington, D.C., where Republican former president Donald Trump was arraigned on August 3, 2023, for his attempts to overturn the 2020 election. Photo by Indianz.Com (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0)

In the end, Mehta sentenced Riley to 24 months — slightly longer than the 21 months that the federal prosecutors had recommended. The judge also went a full year less than the 36 months of supervised release that the U.S. Attorney’s Office requested.

And on the same day of Riley’s sentencing, the Department of Justice noted that 32 months had passed since the January 6 attack. More than 1,146 defendants have been charged in capitol breach cases, the department said.

Donald Trump also has been charged for attempting to overturn the results of a lawful election. On August 3, he was arraigned in the very same federal court where Riley pleaded guilty and was sentenced. Additionally, the one-term former president has been indicted in the state court systems in Florida, Georgia and New York.

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