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Arkansas man charged in US Capitol riot pleads not guilty

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LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — An Arkansas man accused of beating a police officer with an American flag during the attack on the U.S. Capitol on Thursday pleaded not guilty to seven federal charges.

Peter Francis Stager, 41, appeared by video in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. He is being held in the District of Columbia jail.

Stager's attorney waived a formal reading of the indictment and pleaded not guilty to each count on his behalf, according to the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.

Stager was initially arrested Jan. 14 in Conway on one count of obstructing a police officer from his duties during a civil disorder.

A federal grand jury subsequently indicted Stager Jan. 29 on seven charges, including use of a “deadly or dangerous weapon” — a flagpole — to “forcibly assault, resist, impose, impede, intimidate and interfere with an officer.”

If convicted, Stager faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison for “obstruction of an official proceeding and aiding and abetting” and another 20 years for “assaulting, resisting, or impeding certain officers using a dangerous weapon."

More than 300 people have been charged in the January insurrection. Authorities have said they believe at least 100 more could face charges.

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