JAN 6 THE FALLOUT: From Joshua Pruitt to Jacob Chansley, the 10 high-profile convictions
Two years ago, on January 6, 2021, a violent mob of supporters of then-US President Donald Trump stormed the US Capitol. Five people died in the riot, including protesters such as Ashli Babbitt, an Air Force veteran from Southern California who was shot and killed by police as she tried to enter a protected area, and Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick. As a result, on June 9, 2022, a special House committee consisting of seven Democrats and two Republicans began investigating the riots. They worked together to find out what had led to the infamous 2021 riots, interviewing more than 1,000 witnesses, holding ten hearings, and obtaining millions of pages of documents.
In December 2022, they released an 845-page report that said, "The central cause of January 6th was one man, former President Donald Trump, who many others." It went on to say, "None of the events of January 6th would have happened without him," and recommended that the Department of Justice file criminal charges against Trump for his involvement. Republican Vice Chair Rep Liz Cheney of Wyoming said of the riots, according to CNBC, "It was carnage. It was chaos. It was just hours of hand-to-hand combat, hours of dealing with things that were way beyond any law enforcement officer has ever trained for."
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While Trump has so far been spared legal consequences, the same is not true for many of his supporters. According to Wesh, 978 people have been charged in connection with the attack so far, and 465 have pleaded guilty. Of them, 335 have been convicted, with 185 sentenced to prison. Who are the perpetrators? Here is a list of the 10 high profile rioters with heavy sentences.
A federal found Richard Barnett, who was photographed with his foot on a desk in the office of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, guilty in connection with the January 23, 2023, riot at the US Capitol. Barnett, who claimed he was "in the moment" and "going with the flow" while at the Capitol, according to CBS, was convicted of public disorder for obstructing Metropolitan Police Department officer Terrence Craig in the Capitol rotunda. he was also convicted of three other felonies and four misdemeanors. The charges included disorderly and disruptive behavior in a restricted building with a dangerous weapon, theft of government property and obstructing official proceedings, UPI reports. A sentencing hearing will be held May 3, 2023.
Jacob Chansley, whose horned fur hat and face paint made him one of the most recognizable figures in the attack on the Capitol, was sentenced to 41 months in prison on Nov. 17, 2021, after pleading guilty to a felony count of obstructing an official proceeding. Chansley, known as 'QAnon Shaman,' was among the first rioters to enter the building, PBS reports. According to the BBC, footage taken during the riot shows him carrying a spear inside the Capitol. After the riot, he issued a statement through his lawyer apologizing for his actions, saying, "I am sorry for having aroused fear in the hearts of others. That was wrong. Period."
Joshua Pruitt pleaded guilty in June and was sentenced to 55 months in prison on August 29, 2022. According to court documents, Pruitt, who was in the process of joining the Proud Boys, attended a rally with members of the group, which describes itself as a "pro-Western fraternal organization for men who refuse to apologize for creating the modern world; aka Western Chauvinists" At 12.30 pm, he began marching from the rally site to the Capitol. By 2.10 pm, he was illegally on the restricted grounds of Northwest Lawn, according to the Department of Justice. He was arrested the night of January 6 for violating Washington's curfew, and charges were filed against him the next day.
Enrique Tarrio, the former leader of the far-right group Proud Boys, was arrested and charged with conspiracy for his alleged role in planning a March 2022 attack. According to The Guardian, he and his co-defendants in the trial in federal court in Washington DC - Ethan Nordean, Zachary Rehl, Dominic Pezzola and Proud Boy organizer Joe Biggs - are charged with seditious conspiracy and other counts related to the attack. A few days before the riot, Tarrio had spoken of a "revolution" on social media, the paper reports. He was not at the Capitol, but "continued to direct and encourage the Proud Boys prior to and during the events of Jan. 6, 2021, and that he claimed credit for what had happened on social media and in an encrypted chat room during and after the attack," according to USA Today. The trial is ongoing and he faces a sentence of up to 20 years if convicted.
The former leader of the Proud Boys pleaded guilty on October 6, 2022. He accepted an invitation from Enrique Tarrio, then national chairman of the Proud Boys, to join a new group Tarrio had created called the Ministry of Self Defense (MOSD). Bertino participated in encrypted chats and other communications with members of the MOSD leadership in the weeks leading up to January 6. As early as Jan 4, 2021, he received encrypted chat messages indicating that members of MOSD leadership were discussing the possibility of storming the Capitol. On Jan 6, Bertino monitored activities through mainstream and social media, as well as posting in the MOSD chats. He posted messages himself to MOSD leaders and members to encourage and assist in the operation, such as advising those on the grounds of the Capitol to "form a spear" Similarly, Bertino posted on his public social media account 'DO NOT GO HOME. WE ARE ON THE CUSP OF SAVING THE CONSTITUTION." according to the Department of Justice. On the evening of January 6, 2021, Bertino sent a message to Tarrio celebrating the success, writing, among other things, "You know we made this happen," and "1776 motherf****r.
Officers found six firearms, including a scoped AR -15 weapon, and more than 3,000 rounds of ammunition in Bertino's residence on March 8, 2022. Bertino faces a statutory maximum sentence of 20 years in prison for the seditious conspiracy and up to 10 years in prison for the firearms charge. The charges also could result in financial penalties.
Stewart Rhodes, the founder of the far-right Oath Keepers militia, was found guilty of seditious conspiracy along with another member of the far-right organization, Kelly Meggs, and convicted of obstructing an official proceeding and tampering with documents in November 2022. Assistant US Attorney Jeffrey Nestler said of their involvement, "They claimed to wrap themselves in the Constitution. They trampled it, instead. They claimed to be saving the Republic, but they fractured it, instead," he is quoted as saying by NBC. The seditious conspiracy charge carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.
Guy Wesley Reffitt
On March 8, 2022, Guy Wesley Reffitt was convicted of being the first participant in the storming of the Capitol. According to the government's evidence, Reffitt was a member of the Texas Three Percenters, a militia organization, and sent messages urging other members of the group to travel with him to Washington on January 6, 2021, DC. Among other things, he told the group, "the fuel is set," and "we will strike the match in DC on the 6th," states Department of Justice. His goal was to prevent Congress from acting, and he specifically targeted Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. The camera recorded him saying, "We're taking the Capitol before the day is over." He was found guilty of the following five felonies: Transporting a firearm in support of a civil disturbance; obstructing official proceedings; entering or remaining in a restricted area or on restricted property with a firearm; obstructing officers during a civil disturbance; and obstruction of justice - obstructing communication by force or threat of physical force, NPR reports.
Mazza "engaged in multiple efforts to break through the police line" while armed with a loaded .40-caliber handgun and attacked police officers with a stolen baton, Axios reports. He was arrested on November 17, 2021, at his Shelbyville home. He pleaded guilty June 17, 2022, and was sentenced October 21, 2022, according to the Department of Justice.
A 63-year-old Army veteran from Phoenix who pleaded guilty to seditious conspiracy was tried along with three members of the militia group Oath Keepers, Joseph Hackett of Sarasota, Florida; Roberto Minuta of Prosper, Texas; David Moerschel of Punta Gorda, Florida, and found guilty on Jan. 23, 2023. According to AZ Central, on January 6, 2021, at 2.24 pm, he sent a message to other Oath Keepers, "Vallejo back at hotel and outfitted," and "Have 2 trucks available. Let me know how I can assist."
Joseph Hackett was also found guilty on January 23, 2023. A Sarasota chiropractor, Hackett was among a group of paramilitary-clad Oath Keepers who entered the Capitol in a "stack" formation shortly after 2.39 pm on the day of the attack, the Herald Tribune reports.