Benjamin Cohen of Westport allegedly photographed outside the U.S. Capitol building during the Jan. 6, 2021, riot. / Photos, U.S. Department of Justice

By Thane Grauel

WESTPORT — The Westport man accused of attacking the nation’s Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, has agreed to a plea deal.

Benjamin Cohen was 21 when arrested at his Bayberry Ridge Road home on Aug. 9, 2023. He had federal felony and misdemeanor charges levied against him in the riot during which some 140 police officers were assaulted and $2.9 million in damage was done to the Capitol, plus more to the Capitol Police.

A plea agreement signed recently by Cohen, his federal defenders and prosecutors, would leave only one charge — Assaulting, resisting or impeding certain officers, a felony.

Prosecutors will ask the court to drop another felony, civil disorder, and four misdemeanors at Cohen’s sentencing.

The plea agreement states that under sentencing guidelines (Cohen has no prior offenses) his likely sentence on the remaining charge would be 24 to 30 months in prison. A potential fine of between $10,000 and $95,000 is possible, but Cohen can request it be waived.

He could have been sentenced to up to eight years on the remaining charge and fined $250,000, plus more time for the other charges and additional fines.

The document states Cohen will likely have to pay $2,000 restitution for damage to the Capitol.

“The Government will request the court dismiss all remaining counts of the Indictment in this case at the time of sentencing,” it states.

Cohen was to stand trial today, July 9.

The Westport man’s arrest was part of the biggest criminal case in U.S. history.

Photos said to show Benjamin Cohen of Westport outside and inside the Capitol building during the Jan. 6 riot. / Department of Justice photos
Photos said to show Benjamin Cohen of Westport outside and inside the Capitol building during the Jan. 6 riot. / Department of Justice photos

He was among more than 1,200 people charged after a mob attacked the Capitol during a joint session of Congress convened to affirm the presidential election results. More than 700 have been convicted, two-thirds of them sentenced to jail time, according to the Justice Department.

Cohen was arrested 2½ years later by the FBI at the family home after someone contacted federal authorities saying they thought they recognized a man shown in photos on an FBI website.

Cohen was indicted by a federal grand jury on Oct. 18, 2023. He was arraigned via video conference Oct. 31.

He earlier pleaded not guilty to all charges brought against him.

Federal prosecutors allege Cohen assaulted several officers on the perimeter outside the west side of the Capitol and participated in a “heave-ho” breach of the west terrace tunnel leading into the Capitol building.

A photo inside the Capitol, said to be of Benjamin Cohen.
A photo inside the Capitol, said to be of Benjamin Cohen.

Inside the Capitol, a joint session of Congress was meeting to certify the Electoral College results, in which Joe Biden defeated then-President Donald Trump. Trump’s supporters rioted in an effort to disrupt the transfer of power.

The plea agreement comes with a couple big asterisks — the court is not bound by it, and Cohen cannot withdraw his guilty plea.

“The Government cannot, and does not, make any promise or representation as to what sentence your client will receive,” it reads. “Moreover, it is understood that your client will have no right to withdraw your client’s plea of guilty should the Court impose a sentence that is outside the Guidelines range or if the court does not follow the Government’s sentencing recommendation. The Government and your client will be bound by this Agreement, regardless of the sentence.”

Cohen is to be sentenced at 10:30 a.m. Nov. 8.

Thane Grauel grew up in Westport and has been a journalist in Fairfield County and beyond for 36 years. Reach him at editor@westportjournal.com. Learn more about us here.