By Dan Whitcomb
(Reuters) - A former U.S. Capitol Police officer was convicted on Friday of obstructing an FBI investigation into the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol by deleting Facebook messages he sent to a rioter afterward, federal prosecutors said.
A jury found Michael Riley, 51, guilty of a single count of obstruction of justice following his trial in federal court for the District of Columbia, a U.S. Attorney's Office spokesman said.
Jurors deadlocked on a second obstruction of justice count against Riley, prosecutors said. U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson declared a mistrial on that charge.
The obstruction of justice conviction carries a statutory maximum of 20 years in prison, although federal sentencing guidelines typically call for less time behind bars.
Riley's attorneys could not be reached by Reuters for comment following the verdict.
Prosecutors say Riley was not on duty at the Capitol Building in Washington on Jan. 6 but became aware of the events there. Seeing that a Facebook "friend" was involved, he messaged the man, telling him to take down what could be seen as incriminating posts.
Riley deleted the messages after learning that the FBI had been in contact with his Facebook friend. The two men had not met in person.
Supporters of Donald Trump stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, after he delivered a fiery speech at a rally near the White House claiming that his defeat in the 2020 presidential election by Joe Biden was the result of fraud.
(Reporting by Dan Whitcomb, Editing by Rosalba O'Brien)