A former State College business owner faces years in federal prison after pleading guilty on Thursday to assaulting two police officers during the January 6, 2021, riot at the U.S. Capitol.
Julian E. Khater, 33, admitted during the plea agreement hearing in Washington, D.C. to pepper-spraying U.S. Capitol Police Officers Brian Sicknick and Caroline Edwards. The former owner of Frutta Bowls in downtown State College, now a New Jersey resident, pleaded guilty to two felony counts of assaulting officers with a dangerous weapon.
Sentencing range guidelines suggest a sentence of six and a half to eight years in prison, according to the plea agreement. The maximum sentence for the two charges is 40 years.
Prosecutors said Khater traveled to Washington, D.C. on January 6 with co-defendant 42-year-old George P. Tanios, of West Virginia, who brought two cans of bear spray and two cans of pepper spray. The two men attended a rally where former President Donald Trump spoke then went to the Capitol where they joined a mob of Trump supporters seeking to disrupt Congress from certifying Joe Biden’s presidential election win.
Khater told Tanios to “Give me that bear sh–,” and reached into Tanios’s backpack, then saying he had just been sprayed. As other rioters began to forcibly remove bike rack barriers, Khater sprayed a canister in the face of Sicknick, who had to turn his head away and retreat.
Prosecutors said Khater used pepper spray, not bear spray. Sicknick died of natural causes the following day after suffering strokes. Khater and Tanios are not charged in his death.
After spraying Sicknick, Khater advanced toward Edwards and sprayed her in the face from a few feet away.
Edwards testified to the House January 6 committee in June, recounting the events of the day as “chaos” and “carnage.”
She also recalled the spray attack on Sicknick.
“All of a sudden, I see movement to the left of me,” she said. “I turned, and it was Officer Sicknick with his head in his hands and he was ghostly pale, which I figured at that point, he had been sprayed and I was concerned. My cop alarm bells went off. Because if you get sprayed with pepper spray, you’re going to turn red. He turned just about as pale as this sheet of paper.”
Khater and Tanios were arrested in March 2021. Tanios pleaded guilty to two misdemeanors in July and is expected to be sentenced to up to six months in prison.
Tanios’ sentencing is scheduled for December 6. Khater’s is scheduled for December 13.
Khater was co-owner of the Frutta Bowls franchise location that opened in March 2019 at 262 E. Beaver Ave. and closed in 2020. He previously owned another Frutta Bowls franchise location in North Carolina.
More than 860 people in nearly every state have been arrested for crimes related to the January 6 insurrection, including more than 260 charged for assaulting or impeding law enforcement officers.