Chicago January 6th defendant says he was coerced into signing plea deal

ByChuck Goudie and Barb Markoff and Christine Tressel WLS logo
Thursday, June 1, 2023
Chicago January 6th defendant says he was coerced into signing plea deal
EMBED <>More Videos

Athanasios Zoyganeles claims his attorney cajoled him into signing a plea deal but told the I-Team he wants to plead not guilty.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Despite having pleaded guilty to several January 6 charges, and signing his name to a specific narrative of what he admits doing wrong, Athanasios Zoyganeles told the I-Team "I wanted to plead not guilty." He claims his attorney cajoled him into signing the deal. Now a judge will determine whether that claim is true.

"I feel that I didn't really break any laws," said Zoyganeles.

The 45-year-old Chicago-born delivery driver said he was at the U.S. Capitol complex on January 6, 2021 for the President Trump rally. He said he went to the Capitol building where he claims a protest was underway.

"It wasn't an insurrection. You know, people didn't then go across the barriers...if it was an insurrection, they would have rushed those barriers. They never once went across those barriers," said Zoyganeles.

Video evidence and police say rioters broke them down.

Zoyganeles admits going inside with the crowd for a short time. He has signed detailed documents admitting what he did wrong, and he is pictured in the criminal complaint inside the Capitol.

Prosecutors say witnesses in the Capitol reported that Zoyganeles shouted "where are the Nazis?"

The I-Team asked him if he said that.

"Couldn't tell you. I have no idea," said Zoyganeles.

The I-Team asked how he was coerced into pleading guilty.

"Okay, so I found out the day before that I was going to have court, and I need to plead not guilty or guilty. At the time I didn't have no evidence. I had no choice and my lawyers told me I could plead guilty, and if it was within two weeks if I decide to change my mind, I could change the plea. And that's what I did. And the judge refused to do that," said Zoyganeles.

Zoyganeles said he is angry with both of his attorneys. Neither have responded to I-Team messages. The social media videos he sent us claiming to show his innocence don't show him, and would seem to have no relevance his guilt.

He says the government withheld his passport and prevented travel to his father's funeral in Greece, a few months after being charged with January 6th crimes.