'Bob's Burgers' actor Jay Johnston charged for alleged role in Jan. 6 attack

Actor Jay Johnston, best known for his roles on Bob’s Burgers and Arrested Development, has been charged in connection with the Jan. 6 U.S. Capitol riot.

Johnston, 54, was arrested Wednesday on three charges, including a felony charge of civil disorder, according to court documents. He’s been accused of unlawfully entering the U.S. Capitol complex and confronting police officers as part of a mob of Donald Trump supporters in 2021.

Jay Johnston wearing a bandana mask at the U.S. Capitol riot on Jan. 6.

Jay Johnston approaching the lower west terrace tunnel on Jan. 6, 2021.

U.S. Justice Department

ABC News reported Johnston, who voiced the character Jimmy Pesto on Bob’s Burgers, turned himself in to police on Wednesday.

After a court appearance in California, Johnston was released on US$25,000 bond.

The actor has not commented publicly on the charges against him or his alleged involvement in the Jan. 6 riot.

Prior to his arrest, Johnston was one of hundreds sought out by the FBI in connection to the riot. With the help of social media users who recognized Johnston from his many TV cameos, the FBI was able to make the arrest.

In court documents, officials claimed Johnston was seen in front of the lower west terrace of the Capitol, one of the most violent locations during the riot. Authorities wrote Johnston used a stolen Capitol Police shield to create a “wall” to cover himself and other rioters from police.

Jay Johnston holding a police shield.

Jay Johnston holding a Capitol Police shield in the lower west terrace tunnel on Jan. 6, 2021.

U.S. Justice Department

“Johnston then participated with other rioters in a group assault on the officers defending the LWT entrance,” the document reads.

While the mob attacked police in the tunnel with pepper spray and other weapons, Johnston helped other rioters near the tunnel pour water on their faces and then joined in pushing against the line of officers, the FBI says.

Jay Johnston and others making a "shield wall."

Jay Johnston and others present on Jan. 6 made a "shield wall" to cover rioters from Capitol Police.

U.S. Justice Department

Johnston eventually passed the police shield to another rioter when he left the area.

The court documents also claim an unnamed former or current associate of Johnston provided a text message allegedly from the actor acknowledging he was present at the Jan. 6 riot.

“The news has presented it as an attack. It actually wasn’t,” Johnston allegedly wrote in the text. “Thought it kind of turned into that. It was a mess. Got maced and tear gassed and I found it quite untastic .”

Two other former or current associates also identified Johnston from the FBI photos.

The FBI additionally obtained United Airlines records that show Johnston booked a round-trip flight from Los Angeles to Washington, D.C. and arrived on Jan. 4, 2021. He returned to Los Angeles on Jan. 7, 2021.

In 2021, The Daily Beast reported Johnston was “banned” from Bob’s Burgers over claims he was spotted at the Jan. 6 riots. The outlet reported Johnston would no longer voice the character of Jimmy Pesto. Johnston completed voice work for 43 episodes of the successful animated series.

More than 1,000 people have been charged with federal crimes for their conduct at the Capitol on Jan. 6. More than 500 of them have been sentenced, with over half getting terms of imprisonment ranging from seven days to 18 years, according to an Associated Press review of court records.

Johnston’s acting credits also include the film Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy, and the TV shows Mr. Show with Bob and David, Better Call Saul and The Sarah Silverman Program. 

— With files from The Associated Press

© 2023 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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