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Rep. Jamaal Bowman pleads guilty to one count of falsely pulling a fire alarm

WASHINGTON — Rep. Jamaal Bowman, D-N.Y., pleaded guilty on Thursday to one count of falsely pulling a fire alarm, which he did in a House office building on Capitol Hill last month.

Bowman entered his plea in D.C. Superior Court on Thursday morning as part of a deferred prosecution agreement with prosecutors.

Under the deal, Bowman is required to pay a $1,000 fine and write an apology letter to the U.S. Capitol Police chief. In return, prosecutors have agreed to dismiss the charge against Bowman in three months, as long as he breaks no other laws during that time.

The congressman will have to return to court on Jan. 29, 2024, for a hearing to confirm his compliance with the agreement and for the formal dismissal of the charge against him.

In a statement on Wednesday, Bowman said he accepts responsibility for his actions: “I am responsible for activating a fire alarm, I will be paying the fine issued, and look forward to these charges being ultimately dropped.”

He set off the alarm on Sept. 30 in the Cannon House Office Building as lawmakers were about to vote on a spending measure to keep the government open and prevent a shutdown.

In the minutes after Bowman pulled the alarm, he walked past seven uniformed Capitol Police officers without telling any of them that he was the one who pulled the alarm or that there was no fire in the Cannon office building, prosecutors told Magistrate Judge Dorsey Jones during Thursday’s hearing. Bowman later told investigators that he didn’t stop to tell police there was no fire because he didn’t want to be late for votes on the House floor.

“Yes,” Bowman said when Dorsey asked him if the prosecution’s statement of facts was accurate. 

“I was in a rush to get to a vote to avoid a government shutdown,” Bowman told reporters after the hearing.

Hours after the incident, Bowman said in a statement that he activated the alarm by mistake after encountering a door that was typically open during floor votes but would not open that day.

“I am embarrassed to admit that I activated the fire alarm, mistakenly thinking it would open the door. I regret this and sincerely apologize for any confusion this caused,” he said at the time.

Republicans had accused Bowman of attempting to delay the vote on government funding, an allegation that he has denied.

On Wednesday, Rep. Lisa McClain, R-Mich., secretary for the House Republican Conference, said on the X social media platform that she planned to introduce a resolution to censure Bowman and remove him from all committee assignments for the rest of the 118th Congress for activating the alarm.

It’s unclear if House GOP leadership will bring the measure to the floor for a vote.

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