Betrayed by MAGA, former Queen Creek militia leader faces prison over Jan. 6


Ray Epps, in the red Trump hat, center, gestures to others as people gather on the West Front of the US Capitol on Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021. Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

By Camaron Stevenson

January 4, 2024

A longtime Queen Creek resident and former president of a far-right militia is facing six months in prison for his involvement in the January 6 United States Capitol attack.

Ray Epps, who owned and operated the “Rocking R Farms” wedding venue with his wife, Robyn, pleaded guilty in September to a federal misdemeanor charge of disorderly conduct on restricted grounds. Prosecutors recommended a six-month imprisonment for his crime. He is scheduled to be sentenced on Tuesday.

Down the far-right rabbit hole

Epps moved from Las Vegas to Queen Creek in 2010, where he quickly became involved with the Oath Keepers, a far-right, anti-government militia. Epps became the president of its Arizona chapter in 2011, but eventually left because he felt the group was “too radical.”

Despite this, Epps joined thousands of extremists at the US Capitol a decade later, storming the grounds in an attempt to block the certification of the 2020 presidential election results and allow then-President Donald Trump to stay in power.

Video of Epps at the Capitol shows him encouraging Trump supporters to rally at the Capitol before Jan. 6, and telling attendees on the day of the attack that, “as soon as the president is done speaking, we go to the Capitol.”

Epps has said he left Capitol grounds when he saw people scaling walls and never actually went inside the building.

Prosecutors say Epps participated in a “a rugby scrum-like group effort” to push past a line of police officers.

“Even if Epps did not physically touch law enforcement officers or go inside of the building, he undoubtedly engaged in collective aggressive conduct,” they wrote in a court filing.

The attempt to overturn the election results failed, and Epps turned himself in to the FBI two days later.

Conspiracy proponent becomes its victim

Shortly after turning himself in, conspiracies began to circulate in far-right circles that Epps was working as an undercover agent to undermine the efforts of Trump supporters. The theory gained steam and became a regular talking point on Fox News. In January 2022, former Fox News Host Tucker Carlson claimed, without evidence, that Epps had “stage-managed the insurrection.”

Despite gaining popularity, the accusations against Epps hold no bearing in reality. Assistant US Attorney Michael Gordon said during Epps’ plea hearing in September that he was not a confidential source for the FBI “or any other law enforcement agency.”

Footage of Epps at the Capitol was presented to the US House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol, which ultimately determined Epps was not involved with law enforcement of any kind. Republican lawmakers removed the recording when they took control of the House in 2023, but it has been preserved by the nonprofit Internet Archive.

In 2022, Epps and his wife sold their wedding venue and fled Arizona due to death threats stemming from the accusations that he was an undercover agent. Epps says he had found bullet casings in his yard, which prompted the move. The couple now live in a trailer somewhere in Utah.

Epps sues Fox News

Epps filed a defamation lawsuit against Fox News Channel last year, saying the network was to blame for spreading the baseless claims. Prosecutors have also said that the false conspiracy theory about Epps not only has harmed him, “but also attempts to undermine the integrity of the ongoing and overall federal prosecution.”

“Epps only acted in furtherance of his own misguided belief in the ‘lie’ that the 2020 presidential election had been ‘stolen,'” they wrote. “However, due to the outrage directed at Epps as a result of that false conspiracy theory, he has been forced to sell his business, move to a different state, and live reclusively.”

More than 1,200 defendants have been charged with Capitol riot-related federal crimes. Over 900 of them have pleaded guilty or been convicted after trials decided by a judge or jury.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


  • Camaron Stevenson

    Camaron is the Founding Editor and Chief Political Correspondent for The Copper Courier, and has worked as a journalist in Phoenix for over a decade. He also teaches multimedia journalism at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University.

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