Federal prosecutors allege that Joseph Fischer was inside the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. (U.S. District Court)
Former Lebanon County police officer could face prison after Jan. 6 charge reinstated
Former Lebanon County police officer Joseph Fischer, who was charged in connection with the January 6th Capitol attack, has had a legal victory overturned by a federal appeals court.
The court reinstated the most serious felony charge against him, tampering with a witness, victim, or informant, which carries a penalty of up to 20 years in prison. Fischer is accused of joining the mob that stormed the U.S. Capitol to stop Congress from certifying Joe Biden’s presidential victory in 2020.
Fischer had argued that the charge did not cover violent behavior, but a three-judge panel on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit disagreed, voting 2 to 1 to reinstate the charge. The federal judge who issued the ruling noted that on January 6th, Fischer sent his friends texts threatening violence if Biden were sworn in.
“Take democratic [C]ongress to the gallows,” one text reads. “Can’t vote if they can’t breathe … lol.”
The following day, Fischer messaged an unidentified friend on Facebook that the FBI was “targeting cops who went” to the Capitol on Jan. 6, according to court documents.
Fischer said he thought he might lose his job after talking to his boss.
“I told him if that is the price I have to pay to voice my freedom and liberties which I was born with and thusly taken away then [that] must be the price,” he wrote. “Sometimes doing the right thing no matter how small is more important than [one’s] own security.”
Fischer’s legal woes began after he was charged with multiple crimes relating to the Capitol riots, including obstructing an official proceeding, entering a restricted building, and disorderly conduct. He had convinced a judge to dismiss the tampering charge, which includes altering or destroying objects with the intent to obstruct or impede an official proceeding.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit disagreed with Fischer, ruling that the charge applied to his actions during the riots. Fischer’s friends had reported to the FBI that Fischer had texted them about his participation in the Capitol riots, including his violent intentions toward Democratic lawmakers.
Fischer’s trial will now proceed with all original charges. A court date has not yet been set.
Attempts to reach Fischer and his attorney were unsuccessful.
At least 79 Pennsylvanians have been charged for their involvement in the January 6th, 2021, attack on the U-S Capitol — to try to keep former president Donald Trump in power — even though he lost the 2020 election.
That number is tied with Texas for second most in the country –behind only Florida