‘Bob’s Burgers’ Actor Jay Johnston Pleads Guilty Over Role in U.S. Capitol Attack

The real-life Jimmy Pesto Sr. pleaded guilty to interfering with police on January 6 during the storming of the U.S. Capitol.

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Actor Jay Johnston during cocktails at the 19th Annual GLAAD Media Awards on April 25, 2008 at the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Jeff Vespa/WireImage)
Image Credit: WireImage

The actor, best known for his street-brawling newsman character in Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy and as a pizzeria owner in the television series Bob’s Burgers, faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison for his involvement in the January 6 U.S. Capitol riots.

According to a press release from the District of Columbia Attorney’s office, on Monday, Jay Johnston, 55, pleaded guilty to civil disorder for obstructing the police as they attempted to protect the U.S. Capitol during the 2021 riots. U.S. District Judge Carl Nichols is scheduled to sentence Johnston on October 7.

Johnston’s guilty plea comes after he was arrested and charged on June 7, 2023, for several other misdemeanors relating to the riots, including unlawful trespassing and attempting to disrupt government business. He is one of more than 1,400 people charged with federal crimes stemming from that day.

Donald Trump, who was still president at the time, addressed a large crowd of supporters at a “Save America” rally near the White House. He urged them to march “peacefully” to the Capitol but also made unsubstantiated claims of massive voter fraud and told them to “fight like hell”. Apparently, some took this call seriously, to the extent that former Vice President Mike Pence’s security detail feared for their lives and made calls to say goodbye to their families.

The estimated sentencing guidelines for Johnston recommend a prison term ranging from eight to 14 months, but the judge isn’t bound by that term of his plea agreement with prosecutors.

A video from the incident showed the actor take a shield from an officer and use it to push back law enforcement officers defending the Capitol further confirming the documents filed in court alleging Johnston joined a mob of protesters attacking police.

Johnston “was close to the entrance to the tunnel, turned back, and signaled for other rioters to come towards the entrance”, the charging documents stated. He also acknowledged his role in the Capitol riot, sending a text message stating it “wasn’t” an attack but that it “turned into that”.

“It was a mess,” another message said.

Three current/ former associates of Johnston identified him as a suspect from photos the FBI published online, according to the agent. The FBI said one of those associates provided investigators with the text message in which Johnston acknowledged being at the Capitol on January 6.

Airline records also proved Johnston booked a round-trip flight from Los Angeles to Washington DC, leaving on 4 January 2021 and returning on 7 January, according to FBI filings.