By Sarah N. Lynch
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - An Arkansas man who famously was photographed putting his feet up on a desk inside then-U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's office during the Jan. 6, 2021 attack on the Capitol was convicted on eight counts by a Washington jury on Monday, the Justice Department said.
The guilty verdict against Richard "Bigo" Barnett came just a few days after he took the stand in his own defense - a risky move that has sometimes backfired for other defendants charged in connection with the Capitol riot.
Barnett, 62, of Gravette, Ark., was among one of the earliest people to be arrested after supporters of former President Donald Trump stormed the Capitol in a failed bid to block Congress from certifying Joe Biden's election victory.
A photo of him with his feet propped up on a desk in Pelosi's office went viral in the days following the attack.
In a media interview after the attack, he was quoted as saying: "I put a quarter on her desk even though she ain’t fucking worth it. And I left her a note on her desk that says 'Nancy, Bigo was here, you Bitch.'"
He also took an envelope from the desk that was addressed to another member of Congress and digitally signed by Pelosi.
The jury convicted Barnett of eight crimes, including theft of government property and obstructing an official proceeding. Obstruction of an official proceeding can carry up to 20 years in prison.
In his testimony, Barnett acknowledged he behaved badly, but insisted he did not understand that Congress was certifying the electoral votes, and he claimed he did not realize he was in a restricted area, the Wall Street Journal reported.
In explaining the famous photograph, he told the jury: “That’s how I sit at my desk at home,” the newspaper reported.
Barnett, speaking outside the courthouse following the verdict, told reporters he did not get a fair trial because he did not have a jury of his "peers," according to video of his remarks from CBS News.
Asked what he meant by that, Barnett's lawyer said his client did not have a jury comprised of "people from Arkansas... or a jury that has a political composition of anything that's like the rest of the United States."
(Reporting by Sarah N. Lynch; additional reporting by Susan Heavey; Editing by Bill Berkrot)