capitol attack

2 Chicago Men Reject Plea Deals for Jan. 6 Capitol Attack

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Two Chicago men charged in connection with the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol have moved to reject plea deals offered by federal prosecutors, according to court records obtained by NBC 5 Investigates.

Athanasios Zoyganeles, who was arrested and charged in February, accepted a deal and pleaded guilty on July 1, records show. But on Wednesday, his attorneys filed a motion to withdraw his guilty plea "in light of potentially newly discovered evidence."

In the motion, Zoyganeles' attorney notes that he advised his client of "the risks" of filing the motion, including that he could "risk conviction" on all four counts against him, instead of the one he pleaded guilty to, and that he could "likely face a substantially 'harsher' sentence."

"Nevertheless, he has unequivocally made clear that, notwithstanding the attendant risks, defendant wishes to move to withdraw his plea and proceed to a resolution on the merits," reads a footnote in the motion, which argues that Zoyganeles' plea was "tainted" because he entered into the agreement only "because he saw no other path forward due to his inability to fully understand the process by which he was charged."

Lawrence Ligas, who was arrested in December, rejected a plea agreement last week and requested a bench trial, records show.

"I'm a true patriot, I'm a true grassroots activist, and if you're true and honest, you go all the way," told NBC 5 Investigates on Friday. He's next scheduled to appear in court on Sept. 27.

Zoyganeles and Ligas are two of the 24 total Illinoisans who have been arrested and charged in the now 19 months since the attack.

Seven individuals from Illinois have taken a plea deal and been sentenced. First to be arrested was Bradley Rukstales, a former tech CEO from Inverness who was captured on video throwing a chair in the direction of several officers then later taken down in a melee with police. He was sentenced to 30 days in prison and ordered to pay $500 in restitution.

Others received lighter sentences: like Amy and John Schubert of Crest Hill, who each got 18 months probation, or North Shore brothers Christian Kulas and Mark Kulas, each sentenced to six months probation.

Four others at the Capitol on Jan. 6 have accepted a plea deal and are awaiting sentencing.

Brothers Anthony Carollo, of Lockport, and Jeremiah Carollo, of Glen Carbon, as well as their cousin Cody Vollan, of Lockport, all admitted to traveling to D.C. together and identified themselves in photos taken at the Capitol, court records show. They're scheduled to be sentenced on Sept. 13.

Prosecutors say Leticia Ferreira, of Indian Head Park, texted about being inside the Capitol. She has also taken a plea deal and is slated to be sentenced on Sept. 14.

Court records obtained by NBC 5 Investigates show at least seven others have been offered a plea deal or engaged in plea negotiations.

That figure includes Dawn Frankowski, of Naperville, and David Wiersma, of Posen, who prosecutors say entered the Capitol together. Their deadline to accept that deal is Friday.

Former Chicago Police Officer Karol Chwiesiuk has also been offered a deal, records show. He’s scheduled to appear in court on Aug. 23.

Six other individuals from Illinois pleaded not guilty, four with trial dates set – one slated to begin in September and three others in the spring.

Nationwide, the U.S. Department of Justice says more than 850 people from nearly all 50 states have been arrested and charged with crimes related to the Capitol attack, including more than 260 people charged with assaulting or resisting law enforcement that day.

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