Arizona man charged over Jan 6, was falsely accused of being FBI agent
September 19, 2023 10:02 PM
An Arizona man falsely accused of being an undercover FBI agent and instigating the US Capitol riot was charged on Tuesday in connection with the January 2021 attack.
Ray Epps, a former US Marine, faces one misdemeanor count of disorderly or disruptive conduct on restricted Capitol grounds for his involvement in the storming of Congress.
Epps became the focus of right-wing conspiracy theories after the Capitol attack and was baselessly accused of inciting the riot by supporters of former president Donald Trump seeking to prevent certification of Democrat Joe Biden's election victory.
Epps, who voted for Trump in both the 2016 and 2020 presidential elections, filed a defamation lawsuit against Fox News in July accusing the Rupert Murdoch-owned network of a "years-long campaign spreading falsehoods" about him.
Epps, in a complaint filed with a court in Delaware, said he had received death threats because of Fox's false portrayal of him, had lost his business, been forced to move and suffered "mental anguish" because of the ordeal.
"In the aftermath of the events of January 6th, Fox News searched for a scapegoat to blame other than Donald Trump or the Republican Party," Epps said in his suit.
Fox and its host Tucker Carlson, who has since left the network, concocted a "fantastical story" in which Epps was "an undercover FBI agent and was responsible for the mob that violently broke into the Capitol," it said.
"Contrary to Fox's lies, Ray was not a federal agent of any kind, was not law enforcement of any kind, and was not any type of government agent or informant," the suit said.
Because of death threats and harassment, Epps and his wife have been forced to abandon their lucrative wedding venue business in Arizona and move to Utah, where they are living in hiding, it said.
Fox News reached a $787.5 million settlement in April in a defamation case brought by voting technology company Dominion that alleged the network knowingly aired false claims linking its machines to a conspiracy to undermine the 2020 election.
More than 1,140 arrests have been made in connection with the Capitol attack, according to the US Attorney's office in Washington. Nearly 200 people have pleaded guilty to felony charges while 460 have pleaded guilty to misdemeanors.