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NJ Marine reservist whose family says he ‘does stupid things sometimes’ pleads guilty to

A Marine reservist from Burlington County whose family chalked up his involvement in the U.S. Capitol breach to his doing “stupid things sometimes” has become the latest New Jersey resident to plead guilty to charges stemming from the attack.

Marcos Panayiotou, 30, of Cinnaminson, admitted during a court hearing in Washington that he spent roughly 40 minutes milling about the hallways outside the House Gallery and Capitol Rotunda as protesters disrupted the Jan. 6, 2021, certification of the Electoral College vote.

His guilty plea Friday to one misdemeanor count of illegally parading or demonstrating on Capitol grounds means he could be sentenced to up to six months incarceration at a sentencing hearing scheduled for November.

More than 70 Pennsylvanians have been charged in the Capitol riot. A year later, judges are starting to weigh their punishments.

Panayiotou, a former Marine assigned to the 1st Maintenance Battalion unit at Camp Pendleton, Calif., had just left active duty, moved back to the New Jersey area, and enlisted as a Marine reservist less than eight months before the Capitol breach, according to military records.

He first landed on the FBI’s radar after social media photos from the breach surfaced of a man wearing a black hoodie with the logo for the 1st Maintenance Battalion and a red hat embroidered with the phrase “Make the Politicians Afraid Again.”

Within days, a tipster identified that man as Panayiotou and said that he and his parents had participated in the breach, according to court filings. Later, several family members also confirmed the man in the photo was Panayiotou.

One described him to agents as very patriotic but said he “does stupid things sometimes.”

Federal authorities have said they have found no evidence to suggest Panayiotou’s parents entered the Capitol building with him.

So far, prosecutors have charged more than 25 New Jersey residents with various roles in the attack, most of them with misdemeanors like Panayiotou.

Of those, 10 have taken plea deals. And the six who have been sentenced to date have received punishments ranging from probation to more than three years in prison.

Nationally, more than 850 people face prosecution. Roughly 100 of them — or just more than 10% — have a military background, according to data collected by the George Washington University’s Program on Extremism.

© 2022 The Philadelphia Inquirer


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