‘Bob’s Burgers’ actor Jay Johnston pleads guilty to Jan. 6 riot charge

Actor Jay Johnston, of Bob’s Burgers and Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy fame, pleaded guilty on Monday to interfering with police officers on duty during the Jan. 6 U.S. Capitol riot in 2021.

Johnston, who is best known for voicing pizzeria owner Jimmy Pesto on the animated Bob’s Burgers, was arrested last year and charged with a felony count of civil disorder. He was accused of confronting police officers as part of a mob of Donald Trump supporters, many of whom unlawfully entered the U.S. Capitol building.

The 55-year-old actor now faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison, though the recommended term ranges from eight to 14 months.

On Jan. 6, 2021, Johnston was photographed among a mob of rioters assembled on the Lower West Plaza of the U.S. Capitol building near an area known as the “Tunnel,” according to a press release from the U.S. District of Columbia Attorney’s Office.

The authority said the area saw “some of the most violent attacks” against law enforcement during the riot.

Johnston, who filmed much of the riot on his cellphone, stood behind a row of police barricades in the Tunnel.

For 40 minutes, rioters attempted to remove the barricades and advance closer to the Capitol building.

Johnston was seen facing the crowd of rioters as he pounded his fists together and pointed.

He was handed a stolen U.S. Capitol police riot shield from another person in the crowd. As some rioters called out to “make a shield wall,” Johnston held the shield in front of him for a few moments before handing it off.

“Johnston then joined a group push effort against the police line by pushing against the rioters in front of him, who in turn pushed directly against the police,” the press release reads.

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As Johnston and others continued to push toward the police line in the Tunnel, court documents say a Metropolitan Police Department officer was crushed between the crowd and a door.

Police were eventually forced to retreat.

Soon after, Johnston left the Tunnel. He did not enter the Capitol building with other rioters.

Johnston, who is from Los Angeles, will be sentenced on Oct. 7.

He has not commented publicly on the charges or his guilty plea.

Before 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, as well as Johnston’s personal contacts, federal agents were able to make the arrest.

More than 1,450 people across nearly all 50 states have been charged with federal crimes for their conduct at the Capitol on Jan. 6. More than 500 of them have been sentenced, with imprisonment ranging from seven days to 18 years, according to an Associated Press review of court records.

The federal investigation is ongoing.

Johnston is no longer the voice of Jimmy Pesto on Bob’s Burgers. Canadian-American voice actor Eric Bauza has since taken on the role.

Johnston’s acting credits also include the TV shows Arrested Development, Mr. Show with Bob and David, Better Call Saul and The Sarah Silverman Program. 

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