Miami-Dade woman indicted on charges of taking part in Jan. 6 Capitol riots

A federal grand jury last week indicted a Miami Lakes woman on one felony and four misdemeanors related to the Jan. 6, 2021, riot at the U.S. Capitol building in Washington, D.C.

Citing the Capitol’s closed-circuit television footage, cell phone records, photos, videos and text messages, FBI agents say Barbara Balmaseda, 23, illegally entered the Capitol building on the day of the joint session of Congress to certify the Electoral College votes for President Joe Biden.

Balmaseda was arrested in December on a felony charge of obstruction of official proceedings and misdemeanor entering and remaining in a restricted building or grounds, disorderly and disruptive conduct in a restricted building or grounds, disorderly conduct in a Capitol building, and parading, demonstrating or picketing in a Capitol building.

The grand jury last Wednesday indicted her on all of those charges. Her attorney, Nayib Hassan, said in a statement released to the Miami Herald on Tuesday that Balmaseda has pleaded not guilty, and that her most serious charge could be in doubt depending how the Supreme Court rules on a pending argument over prosecutors’ interpretation of federal law relating to obstructing official proceedings.

“We look forward to presenting a vigorous defense on her behalf as we have entered a plea of not guilty. It is our position that the Government is overzeaslously presenting charges against individuals like our client that have very little to no connections to what occurred on Jan. 6, 2021, in Washington DC.” Hassan said. “Additionally, we are patiently awaiting the ruling from the [Supreme Court] on the 1512 allegations as they may have a direct impact on Mrs. Balmaseda’s case.”

“1512” refers to section 1512 of the U.S. Code relating to witness tampering. It is the part of the code prosecutors are using to charge defendants in the Capitol attacks with felony obstruction. Attorneys for another Jan. 6 defendant, Joseph Fischer, are arguing before the Supreme Court that since rioters didn’t destroy any evidence in a legislative investigation, the section doesn’t cover Fischer’s actions that day, according to an April story posted on the National Constitution Center’s Constitution Daily Blog.

Prosecutors have used the provision to convict more than 300 Jan. 6 defendants and it is being used in the case against former President Donald Trump.

The Miami New Times reported that Balmaseda was well-known in South Florida Republican circles and interned for Sen. Marco Rubio between 2018 and 2019.

According to the criminal complaint, she traveled to Washington, D.C., the day before the riots with a man named Gabriel Augustin Garcia, a member of the right-wing Proud Boys group.

Barbara Balmaseda, a South Florida GOP strategist was arrested and accused of storming the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021 with Gabriel Augustin Garcia, member of the Vice City Chapter of the Proud Boys, who was found guilty of obstruction of an official proceeding and interference with law enforcement during a civil disorder in November 2023. A grand jury indicted Balmaseda on May 22, 2024, on five charges related to the riots.

The FBI says Garcia and Balmaseda entered the Capitol through the Senate wing at 2:16 p.m., four minutes after rioters initially breached the building.

The pair then entered an area known as the Crypt, where Capitol Police officers were trying to hold back the mob of attackers.

Around that time, Garcia posted a video of himself on Facebook saying, “We just went ahead and stormed the Capitol,” according to the complaint.

A jury found Garcia guilty in November of obstruction of an official proceeding and interference with law enforcement during a civil disorder. He is scheduled to be sentenced on both felony charges on Sept. 3.

Garcia and Balmaseda then pushed their way to the front of the rioters, who all overran the Capitol police officers, according to the complaint.

Balmaseda remained in the Rotunda and took a photograph of Garcia standing next to a statue of former President Ronald Reagan. She exited the building at 3:11 p.m., the complaint states.