An anti-Trump protester has pleaded guilty to conspiracy for his role in plotting to shut down an inaugural ball by setting off stink bombs and sprinklers, a case brought after Project Veritas videotaped the man discussing the scheme.
Scott Ryan Charney, 34, pleaded guilty Tuesday to the misdemeanor charge of conspiracy to commit assault.
Under an agreement with prosecutors, the D.C. resident can have his criminal record expunged in six months if he completes 48 hours of community service, is not rearrested and abides by other conditions including a verbal or written apology to organizers of the targeted event, the DeploraBall.
Mr. Charney is the third of three members of the D.C. Anti-Fascist Coalition charged with conspiracy after he was captured on hidden-camera video at the Comet Ping Pong pizza parlor in Northwest Washington.
Paul “Luke” Kuhn and Colin B. Dunn, who received similar deferred sentencing agreements, were sentenced Thursday to community service but no jail time after entering guilty pleas in D.C. Superior Court on unlawful conspiracy to commit an offense.
Mr. Charney, who went by the name Scott Green in the Project Veritas video, said he wanted to ruin the DeploraBall, an inaugural fete organized by the pro-Trump group MAGA3X.
“I was thinking of things that would ruin their evening, ruin their outfits and otherwise make it impossible to continue with their plans — so they get nothing accomplished,” Mr. Charney said in the undercover video.
He and the others talked about smuggling butyric acid, an ingredient commonly used in stink bombs, into the event using water bottles, water guns or beer bottles, according to a plea proffer provided by the U.S. attorney’s office for the District of Columbia.
While the proffer states the three men targeted the DeploraBall, it goes on to say that the “defendants indicated in the evidence gathered by the witness that they did not want to hurt any person or eventgoer, but rather discussed only plans to disrupt the event.”
Mr. Charney’s attorney, Shan Wu, said authorities uncovered no evidence that the three defendants actually had obtained butyric acid.
“The government never gave us any evidence that indicated there was any kind of noxious gas or substance to support the allegations that have been made in public,” said Mr. Wu, adding that he was pleased that prosecutors recognized the case involved a “minor, innocuous incident.”
Project Veritas President James O’Keefe said last week that he was disappointed that the men, whose group is affiliated with the anti-Trump group DisruptJ20, will serve no time behind bars.
“We are very happy our undercover videos were used to protect Americans,” Mr. O’Keefe said in a statement. “It is a shame, however, that they were let off with such a light sentence.”
A spokesman for the U.S. attorney’s office declined to comment on the outcome of the case.
DisruptJ20, whose slogans include “no peaceful transition,” crowed last week on Twitter that “activists to serve no jail time from @JamesOKeefeIII’s failed sting operation.” Organizers for the group had said the activists in the undercover video figured out that the Project Veritas investigator was a plant and went on to discuss a false plot as a joke.
Given the plea offer extended by prosecutors, Mr. Wu said, “We did not have to deal with that defense.”
The group, which organized about a dozen “direct action” protests on Inauguration Day, has set up a legal defense fund for arrested activists.
“Court found ‘no dangerous intent’ in the #VeritasThree case. Simple plea bargain for 48 hrs community service, records expunged after service,” DisruptJ20 tweeted.
Mr. Charney appeared before Judge Robert Salerno in D.C. Superior Court.