Newburgh man charged with beating cops with bat at Capitol on Jan. 6 shuns plea deal

Chris McKenna
Times Herald-Record

Two Hudson Valley residents accused of taking part in the Jan. 6 Capitol riots have turned down plea offers and are planning for their trials.

A Newburgh man accused of battling with police outside the U.S. Capitol for nearly two and a half hours on Jan. 6 has rejected prosecutors' plea offer and plans to contest the charges in a trial.

Attorneys confirmed Edward Lang's decision during a federal court hearing held by video and phone on Thursday, his deadline to accept or decline the offer. Lang had faced an estimated prison sentence of at least six and half years under those terms, Karen Rochlin, an assistant U.S. attorney, told the judge hearing the case.

"The offer is no longer viable and is not being accepted," Rochlin said. "At this point, it appears the case is in a trial posture."

Edward Lang, a 26-year-old Sullivan County native, is a Capitol riot suspect. He was arrested at his Newburgh apartment on Jan. 16.

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Lang, a 26-year-old Sullivan County native, faces the most serious charges by far of the 13 current and former Hudson Valley residents charged with participating in the pro-Trump riot. He is being held in the Washington, D.C., jail and is the only local defendant still in custody while awaiting trial or a plea agreement.

FBI have identified Edward Lang as the man with the shield and baseball bat in this photo from Jan. 6, in which a pro-Trump mob clashes with police and security forces as people try to storm the US Capitol.

Rochlin told District Court Judge Carl Nichols that prosecutors had preserved their original plea offer to Lang from July after additional charges were later added against him. She said that under federal sentencing guidelines, Lang likely faced 78-97 months in prison under that offer based on his original indictment, and 87-108 months under the second indictment.

Prosecutors allege Lang punched and kicked police officers and beat them with a baseball bat and riot shield during some of the most intense fighting of the Jan. 6 riot. They have laid out in court papers a detailed account of those assaults based on a flood of videos taken from Capitol surveillance cameras and police body cameras.

Nichols scheduled the attorneys and Lang to return to court on Jan. 18. No trial date has been set.

Goshen suspect planning for trial

Another Hudson Valley riot suspect facing assault charges also turned down a plea offer and is now set to stand trial on April 4.

Thomas Webster, 54, a retired New York City police officer from Goshen, is charged with tackling a cop outside the Capitol and trying to yank off his gas mask and helmet. His lawyer claims the cop provoked Webster by punching him and plans to argue excessive force by police in Webster's defense, according to a court notice he filed on Dec. 2.

Thomas Webster of Goshen is shown grabbing the gas mask of a police officer outside the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 in an image prosecutors provided in court papers. The former Marine and retired New York City police officer faces seven charges for his alleged assault during the pro-Trump riot.

Charges are still pending against all but one of the 13 defendants from the Hudson Valley. The only guilty plea so far was in October from a 27-year-old Putnam County man, who admitted illegally entering the Capitol and faces up to six months in prison for a single misdemeanor count when he is sentenced in January.

The cases have just begun for three local suspects who were charged last month: brothers Greg and Matthew Purdy of the town of Kent in Putnam County, and their uncle, Robert Turner, from Poughkeepsie. Greg Turner, 23, and Turner, 39, face felony assault charges for allegedly pushing police to get inside the Capitol.

More than 700 people in all reportedly have been charged so far with taking part in the Jan. 6 riot, when Donald Trump supporters stormed the Capitol and disrupted Congress as it met to certify President Joe Biden's election victory. Five people died and about 140 police officers were injured.

cmckenna@th-record.com