WASHINGTON — Michael Angelo Riley, the former Capitol Police officer who faces charges for obstructing the investigation into the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol, asked a federal judge Thursday to require the government to provide him more information he can use for his defense.
Riley is charged with two felony counts of obstruction: one for telling Capitol rioter Jacob Hiles to take down Facebook posts of him in the building on Jan. 6 and another for deleting his own Facebook communications with Hiles.
In December, Hiles was sentenced to two years probation, ordered to pay $500 in restitution and assigned 60 hours of community service after pleading guilty to a single count of demonstrating in a Capitol building, a misdemeanor.
Riley’s lawyer, Christopher Macchiaroli, argues the government should provide information on when the grand jury regarding Hiles began and who knew about it. This is because “the Government in its prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Officer Riley knew there was a grand jury empaneled as to Mr. Hiles or had reason to know that one would be.”
Macchiaroli says the government has refused to provide this information after “numerous requests” and that it won’t confirm if the grand jury investigation existed on Jan. 7, 2021, which “is the requisite underpinning to any claim that Officer Riley knew or had reason to know about it at the time of his alleged suggestion to Mr. Hiles.”
The filing says the government “demonstrably ignored” that rights of a criminal defendant are the same regardless of the individual or charged offense. The FBI investigation revealed to Riley that he was the subject of an investigation “solely” because he was a Capitol Police officer, and had he been a “gardener” the investigation into him would not have occurred, according to the filing.
The filing also notes that the government initially said Hiles was not a cooperator, but in its sentencing memorandum it went on to say Hiles provided “exceptional cooperation.” Riley’s lawyer says the government has refused to provide a transcript from Hiles’ sentencing hearing, any discovery from Hiles’ prosecution and all cellphone and social media accounts obtained from Hiles.
Additionally, Riley’s lawyer is asking for preservation requests sent to Facebook “which would negate the Government’s theory that Officer Riley did anything that would ‘impair’ the ability of the grand jury to obtain evidence from Facebook,” among other asks.
Hiles is from Virginia Beach, Va., and runs a sport fishing business. Riley and Hiles didn’t know each other but were both avid fishermen who belonged to fishing groups on Facebook. The two connected on Facebook on Jan. 1, 2021, when Riley sent him a friend request.
On Jan. 6, Riley was on duty outside of the Capitol building and responded to reports of an explosive device near the complex. That day, Hiles breached the Capitol, entering through the Upper West Terrace door.