2 local defendants in Capitol riot appear in Houston federal court

HOUSTON – Two defendants charged with taking part in the riot at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 made court appearances at the Houston federal building on Thursday. One of the suspects is former Houston police officer Tam Pham while the other is Joshua Lollar, 39, who came to the federal building to post bond.

Federal prosecutors accuse Lollar of clashing with capitol police two weeks ago as he made his way into the Capitol building during the riot. He is also accused of entered the building illegally and disorderly.

Federal agents said Lollar posted photos of himself inside the Capitol and even broadcast a Facebook Live post as he made his way in.

On Thursday, Lollar arrived at the federal building, posted a deposit on a 50,000 bond and was fitted with an electronic monitor.

“God bless America,” he said as he passed by a photographer.

Pham, 48, also made his initial court appearance Thursday wearing handcuffs in the courtroom. Investigators accused Pham of being among the mob that forced its way into the Capitol.

However, Pham told federal investigators he was in Washington on business and followed the crowd from the Trump rally to the Capitol.

FBI agents say he initially denied being inside the Capitol building. But agents discovered photos and videos on his cell phone showing him in the building.

On Thursday, Judge Francis Stacy ordered Pham to be released after posting 5% of a 50,000 bond. He was charged with entering a restricted area and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds.

Pham’s attorney, Nicole Deborde, described the charges as low level.

“Really, the crux of the matter is whether he understood he’s not supposed to be at the location where he was at the time, or whether or not it was permissible to be there,” said Deborde.

Pham went home Thursday afternoon and has been ordered to appear in a Washington courtroom, either in person on via Zoom on Feb. 21. He faces up to a year and a half in federal prison and more than $100,000 in fines if he’s convicted on both charges.