Ex-government employee charged with falsely accusing co-workers of joining Capitol riot

A former government employee has been charged with repeatedly submitting fake tips to the FBI reporting that several of his co-workers in the intelligence community were part of a mob that attacked the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, according to court filings unsealed Friday.

Miguel Eugenio Zapata, 37, was arrested in Chantilly, Virginia, on Thursday on a charge that he made false statements to law enforcement.

Zapata submitted at least seven anonymous tips to the FBI's website claiming that seven government employees and contractors were involved in the Capitol riot, according to an FBI task force officer’s affidavit.

Court records don't identify which government agency employed Zapata, but the affidavit says the Chantilly resident previously worked with all seven people named in his false tips to the FBI. One of them had hired Zapata and served as his program manager.

"None of the seven government employees and contractors were in Washington, D.C., on January 6 or attacked the Capitol," the affidavit says.

The tips included similar language and were submitted from four IP addresses. The affidavit says Zapata used a company's “web anonymizer” service to submit the tips.

The unidentified company's logs showed that Zapata's user account accessed the FBI’s tips site, conducted research on two of his targets, searched Google for the term “fbi mole,” and accessed the website of an Office of Inspector General for an intelligence agency, the affidavit says.

The document doesn't identify a possible motive for making the false reports.

Zapata's first tip, submitted on Feb. 10, 2021, says a former co-worker was trying to overthrow the U.S. government, espouses conspiracy theories and retaliates against colleagues who don't share their political views, according to the affidavit.

Another tip that month accused an intelligence agency contractor of sharing classified information with far-right extremist groups, including the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers, “to foment terror and incite violence.” Zapata worked with that person from 2017 to 2019, the affidavit says.

The FBI confirmed that all seven people named in the tips were working in Virginia when a mob of Donald Trump supporters stormed the Capitol, disrupting the congressional certification of President Joe Biden's 2020 electoral victory.

An email seeking comment was sent to an attorney for Zapata.

After the Jan. 6 insurrection, the FBI received tens of thousands of tips from friends, relatives and co-workers of suspected rioters. More than 1,300 people have been charged with participating in the attack.