NORTH KINGSTOWN, R.I. (WPRI) — A Rhode Island man who is scheduled to be sentenced next week for his role in the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol said in a court filing he was “told lies, fed falsehoods” about the 2020 presidential election, compelling him to take part in the violent acts that day.

Bernard Joseph Sirr, 47, of North Kingstown, is scheduled to be sentenced at U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C. next week. He has agreed to plead guilty to one count of civil disorder, four other charges would be dropped as part of the deal with prosecutors. The agreement means Sirr admits to taking part in the riots, including pushing his way into the Capitol building.

At the time of his arrest in June 2022, Sirr was a reactor engineer at the R.I. Nuclear Science Center at the University of Rhode Island, a state job. He was fired a month later.

In a sentencing memorandum filed Tuesday, Sirr’s attorneys said their client is “ashamed of his conduct,” and is seeking a sentence that would spare him prison time.

“The reality is that people like Bernard were told lies, fed falsehoods, and believed that our election was stolen when it clearly was not,” Sirr’s lawyers wrote. “Regrettably, decent people like Bernard took such falsehoods and lies to heart. His love of country was used against him, and Bernard answered the call to stand up and defend our nation believing it was threatened.”

“Bernard now knows that he was tricked by the people he trusted,” they wrote.

The defense lawyers asked a judge to punish Sirr with three years of probation and 80 hours of community service. If the judge deemed incarceration was necessary, the lawyers argued it should be no longer than 60 days in federal prison.

In the government memo filed against Sirr, federal prosecutors asked the judge to hand down a sentence of 10 months in prison and three years of supervised release. They also revealed that Sirr had joined a local chapter of the far-right Proud Boys just prior to making the trip to Washington.

“Sirr stated that he met with Rhode Island chapter of the Proud Boys approximately one month before the rally, in December 2020,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephen Rancourt wrote. “Sirr attended multiple Proud Boys meetings and described the leadership and structure of the organization.”

Prosecutors said the Proud Boys that has been at the center of the attacks that day, “used different levels of access based on a person’s position in the organization,” and he was moved to the “second level” following Jan. 6.

Sirr told FBI agents he disaffiliated from the Proud Boys following the riot.

In their argument to avoid prison time, Sirr’s attorneys point to his military service, clean criminal history and his cooperation with investigators, including giving a voluntary interview to the FBI.

His attorneys said they found additional video from that day that showed him “passing a flagpole over the police line to law enforcement to stymie its probable use as a weapon,” and other evidence that showed him discussing “pressing backwards against the mob to give officers a bit of breathing room.”

The defense memo also said Sirr never intended to take part in any violent action when he decided to travel to the nation’s capital.

“He did not bring any weapons to the District,” attorneys Robert Driscoll and Alfred Carry wrote. “Nor did he bring any defensive gear.”

But prosecutors painted a different picture.

Rancourt said video evidence showed Sirr made his way to the front of the line of rioters “where he implored the officers to ‘join us,’ and to ‘be on the right side of history.’”

He wrote evidence shows Sirr stopped to record the “violent assault” of a Capitol Police officer.

The government’s memo also pointed to tweets Sirr posted ahead of the riot. On Dec. 10, 2020, they wrote Sirr tweeted: “The noose is tightening on the traitors necks now. There is no escape. SCOTUS will bring justice.”

Then four days later he tweeted, “Patriots are ready to FIGHT against this election fraud…. Are you?”

A week later he tweeted that he was planning on travelling to Washington on Jan. 6. Following the attack, prosecutors said his “social media response to the former president was not one of contrition, but defiance.”

The government’s memo also shows Sirr entered the Capitol twice that day, first pushing against an officer’s shield and participating “in a heave-ho series of thrusts against those officers.”

“He then left [the] tunnel and continued to watch the violence, stopping to film as [an officer] was dragged from the tunnel and violently assaulted,” Rancourt wrote. “Less than an hour later, Sirr returned to the fight, and only retreated after being sprayed and forcibly removed.”

Sirr’s sentencing memo included 15 letters of support from friends and family.

A calculation by the U.S. Probation Office puts Sirr’s recommended prison sentence between eight and 14 months. U.S. District Judge Trevor N. McFadden can sentence the defendant to whatever he sees fit, but Sirr cannot appeal the sentence if it falls within the recommended guideline range.

He is scheduled to be sentenced at 10 a.m. on May 23 at federal court in Washington.

Tim White ( is the Target 12 managing editor and chief investigative reporter at 12 News, and the host of Newsmakers. Connect with him on Twitter and Facebook.