Jurupa Valley man who joined Jan. 6 Capitol riot admits to felony charge

A 45-year-old man who was among seven people from Riverside County charged in the Jan. 6, 2021, breach of the U.S. Capitol pleaded guilty this week to aiding and abetting in the obstruction of an official proceeding.

Andrew Alan Hernandez of Jurupa Valley admitted the felony count under a plea agreement with the U.S. Attorney’s Office, which agreed to drop five related charges in exchange for the admission.

U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly, in Washington, D.C., scheduled a sentencing hearing for Jan. 27. Hernandez faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in federal prison, though the term of incarceration imposed is likely to be much lower. The defendant remains free on his own recognizance.

List: These Southern California residents are accused or convicted of taking part in the Capitol insurrection

Surveillance-camera images of Hernandez inside the Capitol on the day of the breach show him carrying an American flag with a Go-Pro camera zip-tied to it.

The pictures, collected by the FBI and included in the indictment against Hernandez, revealed he entered the building via the East Rotunda Door, which was forced open, then milled about with others who had entered the Capitol.

He is accused of posting a social-media message prior to joining the protest outside the Capitol that day, saying, “They are trying to steal the vote and will perfect and protect their fraudulent voting system when in power.”

The defendant proceeded to the Senate Gallery, snapped a few selfies and exited the building 15 minutes later, according to prosecutors.

Hernandez, like the other six Riverside County men charged with disrupting the Electoral College vote certification, was not accused of engaging in any act of violence against law enforcement officers during the breach. He is the third defendant from Riverside County to enter a plea agreement with the government.

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In March, Kevin Strong, 45, of Wildomar admitted a misdemeanor count of picketing in the Capitol Building; he was sentenced to 24 months of probation. In June, Rafael Valadez Jr., 42, of Indio admitted the same offense in a plea agreement with prosecutors. He’s free on his own recognizance and is to be sentenced on Oct. 14.

Derek Kinnison, 40, of Lake Elsinore, Felipe Antonio Martinez, 48, of Lake Elsinore, Ron Mele, 52, of Temecula, and Erik Scott Warner, 46, of Menifee are awaiting disposition of their cases. They’re among nearly 900 individuals nationwide who federal authorities accuse of entering the Capitol unlawfully.