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Santa Rosa man pleads guilty to misdemeanor for actions during Jan. 6 riot at US Capitol

Daniel Shaw, 55, faces up to six months in prison and fines of up to $5,000 when he is sentenced March 3 in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.|

A Santa Rosa man has pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor for joining the Jan. 6, 2021, mob that stormed the U.S. Capitol in an effort to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election, federal court records show.

Daniel Shaw, 55, faces up to six months in prison and fines of up to $5,000 when he is sentenced March 3 in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. As part of a plea agreement reached in September, he entered a guilty plea on one count of parading, demonstrating or picketing in a Capitol building, according to federal records released Thursday.

Shaw admitted he entered the Capitol knowing he did not have permission to be there, according to the plea agreement. He entered the building, holding his cellphone and filming, amid a crush of rioters that pressed through the Rotunda Doors on the Capitol’s east side.

Shaw was charged with four misdemeanors after he was arrested by FBI agents in December 2021 related to joining the crowd of rioters that broke through police barricades and smashed their way into the Capitol, killing and injuring police officers in the process.

According to the plea agreement, Shaw drove from California to Washington, D.C., with his son, a minor, and arrived Jan 5, 2021. That day, Shaw stood outside the Capitol and told an unidentified news reporter he had traveled for the protests and asked, “Where is our America?”

The next day, Shaw and his son attended former President Donald Trump’s “Stop the Steal” rally before walking with the crowd to the Capitol. They entered the building at 3:02 p.m., after rioters gained entry and did so despite alarms sounding and shattered glass in the Rotunda Doors.

After 14 minutes they left the Capitol.

Shaw did not respond to a voicemail from The Press Democrat on Friday, and his attorney, a federal public defender, did not respond to a request for comment.

He is one of more than 900 defendants facing federal charges in the case, according to Jon Lewis, a research fellow with the Program on Extremism at George Washington University, which has been tracking the prosecutions. Of those, 59 traveled from California, representing the fifth largest number from any one state.

Shaw is among 333 people who have pleaded guilty to misdemeanor charges relating to the unauthorized access to the Capitol during the riot so far, Lewis said.

The U.S. Justice Department has pursued charges against Capitol rioters along different tiers based on their role, he said. Prosecutors have brought heavier charges against people who violently assaulted police officers during the riot. Some of their most complex cases are against members of far-right organizations, such as the Oath Keepers and the Proud Boys, that were seen as inciting and organizing the attack.

Prosecutors have not alleged Shaw was a member of either group.

There have been calls for firmer legal action, even against participants like Shaw, given the threat to democracy poised by the violent attempt to undue an election where there was no evidence of fraud despite claims from Trump and other Republicans.

Shaw’s guilty plea comes the same week Trump announced his campaign for reelection in 2024 and repeated false claims about the 2020 election being stolen.

But, Lewis said, prosecutors seemed to be focused on bringing open and shut cases against such participants rather than “throwing 20-year sentences at every person who took five steps into the Capitol.”

So far, the strategy appears to be effective. Of the misdemeanor cases, only one suspect has been acquitted and two cases have been dismissed, Lewis said. Two additional misdemeanor cases were dismissed because the defendants died while the court process unfolded, he said.

In addition to the possible jail time and fines, Shaw must pay $500 in restitution toward restoring damage done to the Capitol during the riot. Federal authorities have estimated the damage costs at more than $1.4 million, according to Shaw’s plea agreement.

You can reach Staff Writer Andrew Graham at 707-526-8667 or andrew.graham@pressdemocrat.com. On Twitter @AndrewGraham88

Andrew Graham

Business enterprise and investigations, The Press Democrat 

I dig into businesses, utility companies and nonprofits to learn how their actions, or inactions, impact the lives of North Bay residents. I’m looking to dive deep into public utilities, labor struggles and real estate deals. I try to approach my work with the journalism axioms of giving voice to the voiceless, comforting the afflicted and afflicting the comfortable in mind.

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