Capitol Rioter With Photo From Senator’s Office Told FBI He’d Visited A ‘Gift Shop’

A Capitol rioter due to be sentenced this month failed to tell law enforcement that he went into a senator’s office, instead claiming he thought he had visited a gift shop, court documents filed Thursday said.

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Brian Stenz of East Norriton, Pennsylvania, attended the “Stop the Steal” rally in Washington, D.C., with a friend on Jan. 6, 2021, and then marched to the Capitol, according to a statement of offense tied to his plea agreement. The two men entered the Capitol through the Senate wing door and walked around for roughly eight minutes.

Stenz took a series of photos during that time and sent them to several people afterward. Images included a bookshelf inside Sen. Jeff Merkley’s (D-Ore.) office and a selfie of him and his friend in the crypt.

Merkley’s office was ransacked during the riot.

According to a sentencing memorandum filed Thursday by the U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia, Stenz admitted during his interview with the FBI that he had posed for a photo on a police motorbike parked outside the Capitol, but did not tell investigators about his trip to the senator’s office, telling them instead that “he went into a place that appeared to be a gift shop.”

“Stenz has a significant criminal history and knowingly engaged in this conduct during a time when he had criminal charges pending against him in Pennsylvania for falsifying records related to the purchase of a firearm. Yet, he chose to enter the Capitol anyway,” the document states.

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Brian Stenz took a selfie of himself and a friend inside the Capitol.

Stenz surrendered himself to authorities in April and was charged in July on five counts in connection to the Jan. 6 siege, including knowingly entering restricted grounds without lawful authority, disorderly and disruptive conduct in a restricted building or grounds, and violent entry or disorderly conduct.

He pleaded guilty in November to one count of parading, demonstrating or picketing in a Capitol building, which carries a maximum sentence of six months of imprisonment and a fine of up to $5,000.

The government requested in its memo Thursday that Stenz be sentenced to 14 days of incarceration followed by 36 months of probation, 60 hours of community service, and $500 in restitution.

His sentencing is scheduled for Feb. 18.

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