WASHINGTON — An Indiana grandmother of five pleaded guilty to a single misdemeanor count of parading in a Capitol building Wednesday – becoming the first of more than 400 defendants to be sentenced in connection with the Capitol riot.
Anna Morgan-Lloyd, 49, of Bloomfield, Indiana, entered her plea Wednesday afternoon in a virtual hearing before U.S. District Judge Royce C. Lamberth. In exchange, the Department of Justice agreed to recommend three years of probation, 40 hours of community service and a $500 fine.
According to an affidavit filed in federal court in February, Morgan-Lloyd was by an employee at the Greene County (Indiana) Sheriff’s Office as someone who had posted about being at the Capitol on January 6 when she attempted to apply for firearms permit. The sheriff’s department then reviewed her Facebook, and found numerous posts by her and a friend, Dona Sue Bissey (also of Bloomfield) appearing to show them inside the U.S. Capitol building on January 6.
In one post, the FBI says Morgan-Lloyd posted that it was the “best day ever.”
“We stormed the capital [sic] building me and Dona Bissey were in the first 50 people in,” Morgan-Lloyd allegedly posted.
Bissey was arrested in Indiana in February, and Morgan-Lloyd was taken into custody in Florida in March. Both were charged with four counts, including entering and remaining in a restricted building, disorderly and disruptive conduct and parading, demonstrating or picketing in a Capitol building.
While Morgan-Lloyd is not the first Capitol riot defendant to agree to plead guilty – that was another Indiana resident, Jon Schaffer – on Wednesday she will be the first to be sentenced. In a sentencing memo filed with the court, the DOJ said, considering her lack of criminal history, it believed the two days she served in jail could be “eye-opening and serve as a deterrent to future criminal conduct.” The DOJ also said the grandmother of five had “expressed contrition for her conduct.”
“In a letter to the Court, the Defendant state that she was ‘ashamed that something meant to show support for the President had turned violent,’” the DOJ wrote. “’At first it didn’t dawn on me, but later I realized that if every person like me, who wasn’t violent, was removed from that crowd, the ones who were violent may have lost the nerve to do what they did. For that I am sorry and take responsibility. It was never my intent to help empower people to act violently.’”
Morgan-Lloyd was originally scheduled to be sentenced Friday, but the hearing was moved to Wednesday due to the declaration of Juneteenth as a new federal holiday.
Appearing before U.S. District Judge Royce C. Lamberth at 2:30 p.m., Morgan-Lloyd expressed regret for participating in a rally that she said she was unaware would turn deadly.
"I would have never been there if I had a clue that it was going to turn out that way," she said. "That was so disgraceful to the American people, and so disgraceful to this country."
Her attorney, H. Heather Shaner, said that in the months since her arrest, Morgan-Lloyd expressed willingness to learn more about U.S. history and ultimately "revisited" her ideas on government policy towards different racial and ethnic groups after reading books like Bryan Stevenson's "Just Mercy" and Dee Brown's "Burn My Heart at Wounded Knee."
“She recognizes that January 6 may have been a euphoric date for her, but it has been a trauma for many in our country," Shaner said.
However, Shaner also downplayed her client's involvement, saying Morgan-Lloyd was "among the least culpable of the individuals who went from listening to the ex-President’s speech to walking down to the Capitol at his admonition.”
Lamberth said he'd struggled with Morgan-Lloyd's sentence, but ultimately decided to go with the DOJ's recommendation of three years of probation.
“Some of my defendants in my other cases think there’s no consequence to this. There is a consequence. And it bothers me," Lamberth said. "I don’t want to create the perception here that probation is the automatic sentence, because it’s not going to be. I’m especially troubled by members of Congress who said that day was just another walk through the Capitol. I don’t know what planet they were on, but there were millions of people who watched coverage of January 6 and saw what you saw, which was a disgrace to our country.”
Lamberth also gave Morgan-Lloyd a warning he says he gives all defendants granted probation.
"Probation comes once in a lifetime," Lamberth said. "And this is your once. I say to you, if I get a report of a violation, you come with your bags packed. It’s not whether or not you’re going, it’s how long you’re going to jail."
The DOJ has not yet reached a plea deal with Morgan-Lloyd’s co-defendant, Bissey. Her next hearing is scheduled for July 19 at 10 a.m. before U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan.
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