PARKERSBURG, W.Va. (AP) — A former Parkersburg City Councilman pleaded not guilty this week to charges relating to the Jan. 6 breach of the U.S. Capitol, The Parkersburg News and Sentinel reported.
Eric Barber, 42, appeared on Wednesday for a video arraignment before U.S. District Court Judge Christopher R. Cooper in Washington, D,C.
Barber’s attorney, Assistant Federal Public Defender Ubong Akpan, entered a plea of not guilty on his behalf to charges of entering and remaining in a restricted building or grounds; disorderly and disruptive conduct in a restricted building or grounds; disorderly conduct in a Capitol building or grounds; parading, demonstrating or picketing in a Capitol building; and theft.
In an interview with the newspaper on the day of the riot, Barber claimed he got close enough to the building to look in a window but did not enter it.
However, the criminal complaint alleges that photos and security video show Barber inside the Capitol wearing a “green combat style helmet and a green military style field jacket.” It said video reviewed by law enforcement recorded Barber saying, “They’re giving us the building,” and that he took selfie images in the Capitol Rotunda. It also claims he stole a portable power station from a C-SPAN media station in the Capitol’s Statuary Hall.
Barber was elected to the Parkersburg City Council in 2016 as a Democrat. He changed his registration to independent a year later, then changed it again to Republican before losing his reelection bid last November. His previous criminal history included convictions for breaking and entering, petit larceny, controlled substances, drunk driving and fleeing arrest. Later, as a council member, his driver’s license was revoked on a marijuana charge and, in a separate incident, he pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct.
Barber remains free on a personal recognizance bond.
More than 300 people have been charged with federal crimes related to the insurrection, which was encouraged by the false claims of former President Donald Trump that the 2020 presidential election had been stolen. Protesters who stormed the Capitol disrupted the certification of Joe Biden’s electoral victory, but lawmakers completed their constitutional duties early the next morning.