Woman accused of helping steal Nancy Pelosi’s laptop is freed from jail
A Pennsylvania woman facing charges that she helped steal a laptop from the office of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi during the assault on the U.S. Capitol will be released from jail, a federal judge decided Thursday.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Martin Carlson directed that Riley June Williams be released into the custody of her mother, with travel restrictions, and instructed her to appear Monday in federal court in Washington to continue her case.
“The gravity of these offenses is great,” Carlson told Williams. “It cannot be overstated.”
Williams, 22, of Harrisburg, is accused of theft, obstruction and trespassing, as well as violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds. Carlson noted that Williams had no prior criminal record.
The FBI says an unidentified former romantic partner of Williams tipped them off that she appeared in a video of the Jan. 6 Capitol riot. The tipster also claimed that Williams had hoped to sell the computer to Russian intelligence, the FBI says.
Williams’ defense lawyer, Lori Ulrich, told Carlson that the tipster was a former boyfriend who had been abusive to Williams and that “his accusations are overstated.”
Amateur detectives working to identify violent rioters that stormed the U.S. Capitol don’t want the process to turn into an online witch hunt.
Video from the riot shows a woman matching Williams’ description exhorting invaders to go “upstairs, upstairs, upstairs” during the attack, which briefly disrupted certification of President Biden’s electoral victory.
“It is regrettable that Ms. Williams took the president’s bait and went inside the Capitol,” Ulrich told the judge, referring to former President Trump’s incitement of supporters at a rally before the riot began.
Williams turned herself in to authorities Monday. She was expected to leave the Dauphin County jail in Harrisburg later Thursday and will be electronically monitored while she awaits trial.
She did not respond to questions as a federal marshal led her in handcuffs out of the courtroom.
Southern Californians arrested in the assault on U.S. Capitol include a doctor, salon owner, and actor/model.
In adding theft-related charges against her Tuesday, a Virginia-based FBI agent said Williams was recorded on closed-circuit cameras in the Capitol going into and coming out of Pelosi’s office.
The agent’s affidavit said a cellphone video that was likely shot by Williams shows a man’s gloved hand lifting an HP laptop from a table. The video’s caption read: “They got the laptop.”
Pelosi’s deputy chief of staff, Drew Hammill, has said a laptop used only for presentations was taken from a conference room.
A federal prosecutor earlier this week argued that Williams should not be released on bail pending trial, arguing that she might flee or try to obstruct justice.
Must-read stories from the L.A. Times
Get the day's top news with our Today's Headlines newsletter, sent every weekday morning.
You may occasionally receive promotional content from the Los Angeles Times.