20210210-LOC-riddle mug

Jason Riddle

A judge on Tuesday ordered the conditional release of a Keene man arrested on charges connected to the Jan. 6 breach of the U.S. Capitol, pending proceedings in the federal case against him.

Jason Riddle, 32, was arrested in Keene Monday afternoon by the FBI and Keene police, and had been in custody at the Cheshire County jail since. Tuesday’s hearing was held virtually before Magistrate Judge Andrea Johnstone in U.S. District Court in Concord.

A former mail carrier and former corrections officer at the jail in Keene, Riddle was charged with knowingly entering or remaining in a restricted building or grounds, theft of government property and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds.

His release came with several conditions, including that he not enter Washington, D.C., except for the purpose of appearing in court or consulting with attorneys, that he avoid contact with any victims or witnesses of the breach — both those he knows now and anyone he might learn of in the future — and that he lead an otherwise law-abiding life while the charges are pending.

In a Jan. 7 interview with The Sentinel, Riddle acknowledged that he entered the Capitol building on Jan. 6 but said he didn’t participate in the initial breach. He also condemned the violence that took place, which left at least five dead. He said he went in after others had stormed the building, found a bottle of wine, poured himself a glass, and eventually left the building before D.C. implemented a 6 p.m. curfew.

“I booked it,” he said during the interview. “I didn’t go there to get arrested.” Asked why he entered the Capitol despite being put off by the violence, Riddle said he simply “wanted to see it.” He also noted that he had gone to Washington to participate in a rally in support of then-President Donald Trump’s unfounded claims that the results of the 2020 election were fraudulent.

During the rally, Trump urged his supporters not to accept the election results and encouraged them to march to the Capitol building. The first barriers were breached within the hour, according to a timeline from The New York Times.

According to an affidavit written by FBI Special Agent Kevin Helson, in addition to the wine, Riddle also stole a book, both from the Senate parliamentarian’s office.

“[Riddle] stated that, shortly after he exited the Capitol, he sold the book to an unknown male individual for $40,” Helson wrote. “[Riddle] also admitted that he stole a small Fox News football from the same office, but tossed it aside as he exited the Capitol building.”

The FBI received tips about Riddle’s involvement after he appeared in a Jan. 9 news segment on NBC10 Boston, the affidavit states. Helson wrote that the FBI conducted a search of Riddle’s residence in Keene on Jan. 22, looking for any digital evidence to support his statements about having entered the Capitol.

Riddle took a number of photos both inside and outside the Capitol, which he posted to Facebook while the breach was ongoing. The day after returning from Washington, D.C., Riddle posted that he plans to run for Cheshire County commissioner in the second district, which covers Roxbury, Keene and Marlborough. He told a Sentinel reporter on Feb. 6 that this is still his plan, despite the federal charges against him.

He is next scheduled to appear via teleconference in federal court in Washington on Feb. 16 at 1 p.m.

Mia Summerson can be reached at 352-1234, extension 1435, or msummerson@keenesentinel.com. Follow her on Twitter

@MiaSummerson.