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 Wednesday 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 is facing 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.
Security surveillance camera images of Hernandez inside the Capitol Building 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 posted 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 edifice 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.
In March, Kevin Strong, 45, of Wildomar admitted a misdemeanor count of picketing in the Capitol Building. He was sentenced to 24 months’ 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 slated for sentencing 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, which involve a mix of felony and misdemeanor allegations. Kinnison’s attorney, Nic Cocis, told City News Service in July that he intends to take his case to trial.
The men were part of the larger “Stop the Steal” movement that formed in November 2020.
They’re among nearly 900 individuals nationwide whom federal authorities allege entered the Capitol unlawfully.