8th South Carolinian pleads guilty to charges connected to Jan. 6 Capitol riot

·3 min read

An Anderson man pleaded guilty Thursday to the felony charges of obstructing official proceedings and civil disorder during the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol.

George Tenney III, 35, a supporter of former President Trump, has agreed to accept a prison sentence of at least 41 months, according to a plea agreement in the case.

Evidence in his case shows he was in the front ranks of rioters who breached the Capitol, scuffled with police officers and held doors open to let other rioters inside.

Tenney’s plea came during a hearing in federal court in Washington before U.S. Judge Thomas Hogan.

He is the eighth of 16 people from South Carolina arrested by the FBI on Capitol riot charges to plead guilty.

Tenney will be sentenced at a later hearing, likely on Oct. 20, and the judge could give him a prison sentence above or below that 41-month estimate in the plea agreement. He has been out on bond since his arrest last year.

Tenney went to Washington on the day of the riot intending to take action to stop Congress from certifying the formal electoral vote certifying President Joe Biden the winner, according to a statement of facts in his case.

His offenses involve causing or threatening to cause physical injury to a person or property in order to obstruct the administration of justice. As part of the plea, he has agreed to pay $2,000 in restitution for damages done to the Capitol during the riot.

The civil disorder charge carries a maximum five-years in prison. The obstructing an official proceeding has a 20-year maximum sentence. In return for the guilty plea, the government will drop seven other charges against Tenney, including one that alleged he engaged in physical violence in the Capitol.

“The plea obviously subjects you to serious consequences,” Hogan told Tenney.

Many of the hundreds of rioters who entered Capitol were not violent, although just by trespassing and entering the building without going through normal security checks, they were obstructing Congress’s efforts to formally certify electoral votes and Biden’s victory that day, prosecutors have said.

“Aside from potential jail time, you may lose some of your civil rights,” Hogan continued. Those rights include the right to vote and possess any kind of firearms and ammunition, the judge said.

Tenney planned for more than a week to go to Washington to attend a Trump rally, according to evidence in the case. Evidence against Tenney includes his Facebook postings, surveillance videos and statements from officers he fought with, according to court records.

In court Thursday, Hogan quoted a posting on Facebook Tenney made in late December 2020.

“It’s starting to look like we may siege the capitol building and congress if the electoral votes dont (sic) go right,” the post said.

The judge noted that while Tenney was in Capitol, Tenney fought with police officers who were trying to prevent rioters from entering the building and assisted rioters coming into the building, yelling, “Stand up, Patriots! Stand up!”

The judge also explained that by pleading guilty Tenney was giving up including the right to seek a trial and confront witnesses against him.

After reading a statement of Tenney’s actions while he was in the Capitol, the judge asked him if what he read was correct.

“Yes, your honor,” Tenney said.