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Former U.S. Olympian nears plea deal in Capitol riots case

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Newly-installed razor wire tops the unscalable fence surrounding the U.S. Capitol in the wake of the January 6th riot and ahead of the upcoming inauguration in Washington, U.S. January 14, 2021. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

WASHINGTON, Aug 4 (Reuters) - A Michigan man who declared "take back our country" before the attack on the U.S. Capitol was sentenced on Wednesday to time served after pleading guilty to a misdemeanor, while a former U.S. Olympic swimmer negotiated a plea bargain to riot-related charges.

As part of his plea deal, Karl Dresch, 41, of Michigan's Upper Peninsula, agreed to be interviewed by investigators following his expected release from jail on Wednesday or Thursday, his lawyer told a federal judge.

Meanwhile, a prosecutor and a defense lawyer said they were close to a plea bargain for swimmer Klete Keller, a U.S. gold medalist in the 2004 and 2008 Olympics, who faces seven riot-related charges, including civil disorder and witness tampering.

Prosecutor Amanda Jawad confirmed to U.S. District Judge Richard Leon that a plea offer had been extended to Keller and said the defense and prosecution were "just finalizing an agreement."

Dresch is at least the fourth Jan. 6 defendant to be sentenced, after pleading guilty on Wednesday to a charge of demonstrating in a Capitol building. A federal official said 28 defendants facing riot-related charges have entered guilty pleas, with sentencing for most still pending.

More than 535 people face charges arising from the riot in which supporters of Republican then-President Donald Trump sought to block Congress from certifying Democratic President Joe Biden's election victory.

U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson said Dresch was held in pretrial detention for six months: the maximum sentence for a conviction on the charge to which he pled guilty. As part of his plea deal, prosecutors dropped four additional charges, including a charge of witness tampering.

Prosecutor Jennifer Blackwell noted that Dresch posted inflammatory social media posts encouraging possible Jan. 6 violence but did not actually engage in violence.

Reporting by Mark Hosenball; Editing by Scott Malone, Steve Orlofsky and Jonathan Oatis

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