A former U.S. Capitol Police officer was convicted on Friday of obstructing an FBI investigation into the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol by deleting Facebook messages he sent to a rioter afterward, federal prosecutors said.
A jury found Michael Riley, 51, guilty of a single count of obstruction of justice following his trial in federal court for the District of Columbia, a U.S. Attorney's Office spokesman said.
Jurors deadlocked on a second obstruction of justice count against Riley, prosecutors said. U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson declared a mistrial on that charge.
The obstruction of justice conviction carries a statutory maximum of 20 years in prison, although federal sentencing guidelines typically call for less time behind bars.
"Michael Riley never obstructed any grand jury proceeding, nor did he attempt or intend to do so," his attorney, Christopher Macchiaroli, said in a written statement.
Macchiaroli said Riley intended to raise legal challenges to the verdict with the trial court and in future possible appeals.
Prosecutors say Riley was not on duty at the Capitol Building in Washington on Jan. 6 but became aware of the events there. Seeing that a Facebook
"friend" was involved, he messaged the man, telling him to take down what could be seen as incriminating posts.
Riley deleted the messages after learning that the FBI had been in contact with his Facebook
friend. The two men had not met in person.
Supporters of Donald Trump
stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, after he delivered a fiery speech at a rally near the White House claiming that his defeat in the 2020 presidential election by Joe Biden
was the result of fraud.