‘Bob’s Burgers’ Actor Faces Up to 5 Years in Prison for Jan. 6 Actions

Jay Johnston, an actor known for voicing the character Jimmy Pesto on the animated series Bob’s Burgers, faces up to five years in prison after pleading guilty on Monday to interfering with police officers during the January 6, 2021, riot on the U.S. Capitol.

The 55-year-old pleaded guilty to civil disorder, a felony, which carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison, but sentencing guidelines suggest a prison term of eight to 14 months. However, Judge Carl Nichols, who is overseeing the proceeding, retains discretion in his decision, regardless of the plea agreement.

Johnston, who is also recognized for his part in the film Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy, is one of more than 1,400 people who have been charged in relation to the riot on the Capitol. Former President Donald Trump also currently faces four felony counts for his alleged actions surrounding the riot. The former president has pleaded not guilty and claims the federal case against him is politically motivated.

Newsweek reached out to Johnston’s attorney, Stanley Woodward, via email on Monday for comment.

January 6 Capitol Attack
Supporters of former President Donald Trump are seen outside the U.S. Capitol in Washington, DC on January 6, 2021. Jay Johnston, known for his role as the voice of Jimmy Pesto on the animated series…


Johnson was arrested in June 2023 after video evidence reportedly showed him pushing against police officers and aiding other rioters, as well as holding a stolen police shield and passing it to other members of the mob, according to an FBI agent’s affidavit.

In addition, a court filing accompanying Johnston’s plea agreement revealed the actor recorded the riot on his cellphone, helped rioters flush chemicals from their eyes and actively participated in the rioters’ efforts against law enforcement.

According to an FBI affidavit, three individuals identified Johnston from photos released by the agency. One acquaintance provided a text message in which Johnston downplayed the event, despite acknowledging his presence at the Capitol.

“The news has presented it as an attack. It actually wasn’t. Thought it kind of turned into that. It was a mess. Got maced and tear gassed and I found it quite untastic,” Johnston reportedly wrote.

Johnston’s involvement in the Capitol attack led to professional backlash, and his character from Bob’s Burgers was written off the show, according to a 2021 story in The Daily Beast. The character, pizza shop owner Jimmy Pesto, was later revived with a different voice actor.

A sentencing hearing in Johnston’s case is scheduled for October 7, and Judge Nichols asked federal prosecutors to turn in their sentencing memo by September 30 and the defense to turn theirs in by October 3.

The guilty plea from Johnston comes after the Supreme Court’s recent ruling about the obstruction of an official proceeding charge used against hundreds of January 6 defendants is expected to have an impact on many cases.

Last month, the court ruled in a 6-3 decision in Fischer v. United States that the federal obstruction statute, under which Capitol rioter Joseph Fischer was charged, is intended specifically for evidence tampering and not broader rioter conduct that he engaged in.

The ruling narrows the scope of the federal obstruction statute that is used in many of the prosecutions related to more than 355 January 6 Capitol rioters who have been charged with obstructing an official proceeding.