7 years in jail for ex-policeman who rioted at US Capitol

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A former Virginia police sergeant who joined Donald Trump’s supporters in storming the United States Capitol on January 6, 2021, was sentenced to seven years and three months in jail, matching the longest jail sentence thus far amongst a whole bunch of Capitol riot circumstances.

Former Rocky Mount Police Sergeant Thomas Robertson declined to handle the court docket earlier than US District Judge Christopher Cooper sentenced him to seven years and three months in jail on Thursday. Cooper additionally sentenced Robertson to 3 years of supervised launch after his jail time period.

Federal prosecutors had really helpful an eight-year jail sentence for Robertson. His sentence equals that of Guy Reffitt, a Texas man who attacked the Capitol whereas armed with a holstered handgun.

Robertson will get credit score for the 13 months he has already spent in custody. Robertson has been jailed since Cooper dominated final 12 months that he violated the phrases of his pretrial launch by possessing firearms.

The choose stated he was troubled by Robertson’s conduct since his arrest — not simply his stockpiling of weapons but additionally his phrases advocating for violence. After January 6, Robertson informed a pal that he was ready to battle and die in a civil conflict, and he clung to baseless conspiracy theories that the 2020 election was stolen from then President Donald Trump, the choose famous.

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Sentencing pointers calculated by Cooper really helpful a jail time period starting from seven years and three months to 9 years.

“It’s a long time because it reflects the seriousness of the offences that you were convicted of,” the choose stated.

In April, a jury convicted Robertson of attacking the Capitol to hinder Congress from certifying Joe Biden’s 2020 presidential victory. Jurors discovered Robertson responsible of all six counts in his indictment, together with prices that he interfered with law enforcement officials on the Capitol and that he entered a restricted space with a harmful weapon, a big picket stick.

Robertson’s legal professionals stated the Army veteran was utilizing the stick to assist him stroll as a result of he has a limp from getting shot in the suitable thigh whereas working as a non-public contractor for the Defense Department in Afghanistan in 2011.

The choose stated he agreed with jurors that Robertson went to the Capitol to intrude with the joint session of Congress on January 6.

Robertson was an “active and willing participant,” not “some bystander” who obtained swept up within the crowd, Cooper stated.

Robertson travelled to Washington, DC, on that morning with one other off-duty Rocky Mount police officer, Jacob Fracker, and a 3rd man, a neighbour who was not charged within the case.

He has been in detention since final 12 months, after the choose discovered he violated court docket orders and continued to purchase what prosecutors described as an “arsenal” of weapons on-line. FBI brokers additionally discovered a loaded M4 rifle and {a partially} assembled pipe bomb at his home throughout a search.

Robertson’s trial featured testimony from Fracker, who had reported to Robertson on the police pressure and entered the Capitol on January 6, 2021, with him, the place they took selfies collectively.

Prosecutors stated Robertson later destroyed the cell telephones they’d used that day.

Fracker, who cooperated with the Justice Department, pleaded responsible to a felony cost of conspiracy in March and is because of be sentenced on August 16. In alternate for his cooperation, prosecutors are asking the choose to condemn him to six-month probation with a situation of group confinement or home detention.

Prosecutors stated Robertson “anticipated violence” on January 6, and he packed gasoline masks for himself and Fracker, in addition to army meals rations, water and a big picket stick.

Robertson “used his law enforcement training to block Metropolitan Police Officers attempting to hold back the mob,” Federal Prosecutor Elizabeth Aloi wrote within the authorities’s sentencing memo.

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Robertson’s lawyer, Mark Rollins, sought a jail sentence under two years and three months. He questioned the equity of the extensive hole in sentences that prosecutors really helpful for Robertson and Fracker, given their comparable conduct.

Robertson served his nation and group with distinction, his lawyer informed the choose.

“His life already is in shambles,” Rollins stated.

Robertson and Fracker have been amongst a number of present or former regulation enforcement officers who joined in the riot. Prosecutors say Robertson used his regulation enforcement and army coaching to dam law enforcement officials who have been making an attempt to carry off the advancing mob.

Assistant US Attorney Elizabeth Aloi stated Robertson was ready for violence when he went to the Capitol and did a “victory lap” contained in the constructing, the place he posed for a selfie with Fracker.

“The defendant is, by all accounts, proud of his conduct on January 6,” she stated.

Jurors noticed a few of Robertson’s posts on social media earlier than and after the riot. In a Facebook publish on November 7, 2020, Robertson stated “being disenfranchised by fraud is my hard line”.

“I’ve spent most of my adult life fighting a counter insurgency. [I’m] about to become part of one, and a very effective one,” he wrote.

In a letter addressed to the choose, Robertson stated he took full duty for his actions on January 6 and “any poor decisions I made”. He blamed the vitriolic content material of his social media posts on a mixture of stress, alcohol abuse and “submersion in deep ‘rabbit holes’ of election conspiracy theory”.

“I sat around at night drinking too much and reacting to articles and sites given to me by Facebook” algorithms, he wrote.

However, he denied ever having “any intention to disrupt Congress” and claimed that Fracker really destroyed the cell telephones, and later lied to the FBI and the court docket about it.

The small city of Rocky Mount fired Robertson and Fracker after the riot.

Roughly 850 individuals have been charged with federal crimes for his or her conduct on January 6. More than 350 of them have pleaded responsible, largely to misdemeanour offences, and greater than 230 have been sentenced thus far.

Robertson’s jury trial was the second for a Capitol riot case; Reffitt’s was the primary. Jurors have unanimously convicted seven Capitol rioters of all prices of their respective indictments.

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