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Democrat congressman pleads guilty to new charges

A U.S. Capitol Police vehicle. (Office of Congressional Workplace Rights)
October 26, 2023

Rep. Jamaal Bowman (D-N.Y.) pleaded “guilty” Thursday in a Washington D.C. courtroom on a misdemeanor charge related to falsely triggering a fire alarm.

Bowman, a key figure in the Democratic Party’s progressive “Squad,” appeared in D.C. Superior Court facing a charge from D.C. Assistant Attorney General Peter Saba for causing a false fire alarm in the Cannon House Office Building, according to Fox News.

The false fire alarm incident unfolded against the backdrop of a critical September 30 vote, as the Republican Party attempted to avoid a government shutdown by passing a stopgap funding bill.

Dressed in a navy suit, with a striped shirt and blue tie, and carrying a gray backpack, the 47-year-old congressman turned himself in on Thursday morning ahead of his arraignment.

Addressing reporters before the court proceeding, Bowman claimed he was “taking responsibility” for falsely pulling the fire alarm.

“What I did was against D.C. law,” he said. “As I said from the very beginning, I was not trying to disrupt any congressional proceedings, I’m glad the investigation yielded that.”

Bowman agreed to a plea deal involving writing of a letter of apology to the U.S. Capitol Police and a $1,000 fine, according to Fox News. D.C. Superior Court Judge Dorsey Jones warned Bowman that failure to comply with the plea deal could lead to a six-month prison term and an additional $1,000 fine.

Bowman’s office informed Fox News that fulfilling the plea deal conditions would result in the eventual withdrawal of charges.

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“I’m thankful for the quick resolution from the District of Columbia Attorney General’s office on this issue and grateful that the United States Capitol Police General Counsel’s office agreed I did not obstruct nor intend to obstruct any House vote or proceedings,” Bowman told Fox News. “I am responsible for activating a fire alarm, I will be paying the fine issued, and look forward to these charges being ultimately dropped.”

Bowman also pointed out potential the political ramifications of his plea deal, saying, “I think we all know that Republicans will attempt to use this to distract everyone from their mess, but I look forward to putting this behind me and to continue working hard to deliver for New Yorkers.”

The Democrat congressman is now scheduled for a review hearing on January 29, 2024.

According to an arrest warrant filed by U.S. Capitol Police Supervisory Special Agent Joseph McAtee that was obtained by Fox News, police were informed at 12:05 on September 30 that a fire alarm had been activated on the second floor of the Cannon House Office Building.

The arrest warrant detailed Bowman’s actions, describing how he claimed to have inadvertently triggered the alarm while attempting to access a door that was typically open. According to Fox News, security footage showed the congressman’s repeated attempts to open the doors before activating the alarm and leaving the scene.

This news article was partially created with the assistance of artificial intelligence and edited and fact-checked by a human editor.