A Chicago man was arrested Wednesday on four federal charges in connection with the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol.
Lawrence Ligas, 62, was taken into custody Wednesday and charged with: entering and remaining in a restricted building or grounds; disorderly and disruptive conduct in a restricted building or grounds; disorderly conduct in a capitol building; as well as parading, demonstrating, or picketing in a capitol building, according to the criminal complaint filed against him Wednesday in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.
The first two charges are Class A misdemeanors with a maximum sentence of up to one year in prison and a maximum fine of $100,000, prosecutors said in court Wednesday. Charges three and four are Class B misdemeanors with a maximum sentence of six months in prison and a maximum fine of $5,000.
The criminal complaint filed against Ligas says that five days after the attack on the Capitol, the FBI received a tip from an individual who said that Ligas was quoted by name in an NPR article in which he said, “We’re not moving on… We are not Republicans. We are the MAGA party. We are patriots.”
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That person identified Ligas from a driver’s license photo but hadn’t seen him in about 10 years, prosecutors say.
With a search warrant served on Google, prosecutors say investigators obtained records showing that a device associated with a Gmail account with a recovery phone number registered to Ligas was inside the Capitol on Jan. 6.
The complaint also says Ligas was seen in a YouTube video in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 5, wearing a blue scarf with white stars that authorities said he was seen wearing at the Capitol the following day. Federal prosecutors also cited other records obtained from Google, including photographs that show Ligas wearing the same clothing they say he wore in the Capitol.
Prosecutors also said Ligas was interviewed by the FBI in October 2017 about a separate matter and the special agent who interviewed him then identified him in this investigation via photographs and video evidence.
Authorities also say records from Southwest Airlines show that Ligas flew from Chicago to Washington, D.C., on Jan. 5 and returned on Jan. 7.
Ligas has documented ties to Illinois politics: he can be seen in multiple photos on the social media pages of state Sen. Darren Bailey, who's seeking the Republican nomination for governor, and is listed on Bailey's website as the contact for one of his fundraisers.
A spokesman for Bailey's campaign said in a statement, "We're shocked by this news and we do not condone any illegal activities. He has never been a member of our campaign staff. We support law and order and trust the court system to ensure anyone breaking the law is held accountable for their actions."
A search of state campaign finance records also revealed the Illinois Republican Party paid Ligas $425 for “field work” in 2014. Records show Ligas also donated to the campaign committees of three Democrats in years past: then-state Rep. John Fritchey in 2000, disgraced former Gov. Rod. Blagojevich in 2001 and Blagojevich's father-in-law, former Chicago Ald. Dick Mell in 2012, as well as Mell's 33rd Ward Democratic Organization six times between 2001 and 2010.
During Ligas' initial court appearance via phone Wednesday afternoon, prosecutors recommended that he be released on his own recognizance, to which the judge agreed.
Conditions of Ligas' release included: he must submit a DNA sample, turn over his expired passport and cannot possess a firearm. He must also notify his pretrial officer of any address or phone change as well as any travel outside Illinois or any contact with law enforcement, among other conditions.
When asked for a statement outside the federal courthouse in Chicago following his release, Ligas responded, "Freedom isn't free."
Ligas is next scheduled to appear before a judge in Washington, D.C., via video conference on Dec. 7.