Ex-government employee charged with submitting false tips alleging coworkers’ involvement in Capitol riot

A former government employee was charged this week with submitting false tips about ex-colleagues to the FBI’s tip line investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, according to court documents unsealed Friday.

Miguel Zapata was arrested Thursday in Chantilly, Virginia, in connection with providing materially false statements to law enforcement, according to an arrest warrant.

Zapata submitted at least seven anonymous tips via the FBI’s tip portal from February to April of 2021 that accused former government co-workers of playing a role in the attack on the Capitol, according to an FBI affidavit. The affidavit doesn’t identify Zapata’s government employment history.

The affidavit says that Zapata had used a “web anonymizer” service and notes that the tips were worded in a similar fashion.

FBI records also indicated the tips were traced back to four IP addresses, and subscriber information for those IP addresses was assigned to a service provider account under the billing name of “Mike Zapata,” according to the affidavit.

The logs cited in the affidavit indicate his account used the unidentified service to visit the FBI tip line, to conduct research on some of the people he submitted tips on, and for a Google search of the term “fbi mole.”

Zapata’s false tips alleged that his colleagues, who were government employees and contractors, were involved in the Capitol riot and in some cases shared classified information to assist the efforts of people and groups aiming to overthrow the government, the document says.

“None of the seven government employees and contractors were in Washington, D.C., on January 6 or attacked the Capitol,” the affidavit states, noting that each of the accused people was working in Virginia on Jan. 6, 2021.

In one tip on Feb. 16, 2021, Zapata alleged a colleague had attended the Capitol riot and played an active role in leading the riot “to hunt for politicians and execute them.” Zapata worked with that person from roughly 2017 to 2019, the affidavit says.

In another tip on April 11, 2021, Zapata alleged that a former colleague “provided support to domestic terrorist groups like the OathKeepers, Proud Boys and Boogaloos” and shared classified information with these groups to aid their efforts in overthrowing the government, according to the document.

An attorney listed for Zapata and the Justice Department did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Friday evening.

More than 1,387 defendants have been charged in connection with the Capitol attack.