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Former government employee charged with falsely accusing coworkers of participating in Jan. 6 Capitol attack

Breaking down charges against Jan. 6 rioters
Breaking down the crimes Jan. 6 defendants are charged with 01:41

Washington — A former government employee with ties to federal intelligence agencies was arrested in Virginia Thursday and accused of sending fake tips to the FBI in which he falsely accused multiple coworkers of taking part in the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol breach, newly unsealed court documents revealed. 

Investigators alleged in court records that Miguel Zapata anonymously submitted information about seven individuals with whom he had once worked in the months after the attack, writing that they "espoused conspiracy theories" and "took part in the insurrection." 

According to prosecutors, between February and April 2021, Zapata allegedly concocted fake stories about his former coworkers' involvement in the events of Jan. 6 and submitted them via the FBI's anonymous tip line that has been used to gather information following the Capitol breach. Over 1,300 individuals have so far been charged for their alleged involvement. 

"These tips variously alleged that the government employees and contractors were physically present at or involved in the attack at the Capitol or had shared classified information with individuals and groups present at the riot with the intent to assist these groups in overthrowing the United States government," charging documents said. 

Zapata is accused of sending the home addresses, full names, and security clearance levels of his former colleagues to the FBI, which prompted the FBI and some of the victims' employers to launch investigations into their alleged conduct based on the faulty information. 

"None of the seven government employees and contractors were in Washington, D.C., on January 6 or attacked the Capitol," prosecutors confirmed in court records.

In one submission from February 2021, Zapata allegedly wrote that one individual "espouses extremist ideology in the work place and has bragged about [his/her] association with the Boogaloo Bois, ProudBoys and Oath Keepers," extremist groups whose members and associates have been charged in the attack. 

One of the people whom Zapata is accused of flagging to the FBI was his former program manager who hired him in 2015, according to court papers. 

In another tip, submitted in April 2021, Zapata is accused of telling investigators that one of the victims used to "share classified information with these groups in an effort to assist them succeed in overthrowing the government."

Zapata was charged with one count of providing materially false statements to law enforcement. He has yet to be arraigned and made his initial appearance in federal court on Thursday, where a magistrate judge released him on personal recognizance. 

His defense attorney did not immediately respond to CBS News' request for comment. 

Although the fake tips were submitted anonymously, investigators said they tracked Zapata down because all seven entries were made from four specific IP addresses associated with the defendant's accounts. The similarity in the written language and the victims' connections to the federal government prompted the FBI to look further into who had actually submitted the complaints. 

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