On Friday, a New Jersey gym owner and a Washington state man became the first people charged in the January 6 riot at the United States Capitol to plead guilty to assaulting a United States Forces officer. order during the murderous siege.
The pair of plea deals with federal prosecutors could be a benchmark for dozens of other cases in which rioters on Capitol Hill are accused of attacking police as part of an effort to end certification of President Joe Biden’s electoral victory. Both defendants face more than three years in prison if a judge adheres to the estimated sentencing guidelines set out in the plea agreements.
The estimated sentencing guidelines for Scott Kevin Fairlamb range from around 3 1/2 to 4 1/4 years in prison. But the judge is not bound by that recommendation when he convicts Fairlamb, a 44-year-old mixed martial arts veteran who owned the Fairlamb Fit gymnasium in Pompton Lakes, New Jersey. Fairlamb attorneys and prosecutors can seek a higher or lower sentence than these guidelines.
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The sentencing guidelines in Devlyn Thompson’s plea deal recommend a slightly higher sentence than Fairlamb, ranging from less than four years to 4 3/4 years in prison. After the Fairlamb hearing, Thompson, 28, of Puyallup, Wash., Pleaded guilty to assaulting a police officer with a dangerous weapon, a baton.
The same judge who accepted Fairlamb’s guilty plea ordered that Thompson be jailed in Seattle. Thompson had been free since his participation in the Capitol Riot.
The pleas come less than two weeks after a group of police testified at a congressional hearing about their harrowing confrontations with the mob of insurgents. Five officers who were on Capitol Hill that day died, four of them by suicide. The Justice Department said rioters assaulted around 140 police officers on January 6. About 80 of them were United States Capitol Police officers and about 60 were from the Washington, DC Metropolitan Police Department.
Fairlamb, whose brother is a U.S. Secret Service agent, was one of the first to enter the Capitol after other rioters smashed windows with riot shields and smashed down a locked door , according to federal prosecutors. After leaving the building, Fairlamb harassed a row of police officers, yelling at them and blocking their progress through the crowd, prosecutors wrote in a court file.
One video showed him holding a foldable stick and shouting, “What are the Patriots doing? We f—— disarm them and then we storm the f—— Capitol! “
Assistant U.S. Attorney Tejpal Chawla said Thompson was at the forefront of the day’s most violent clashes, in a tunnel on the Capitol.
“This is one of the largest domestic terrorist events in US history, where a group of individuals attacked the citadel of our constitutional democracy in an attempt to overturn the valid election results of the President of the States. -United, ”said Chawla.
Thomas Durkin, one of Thompson’s attorneys, said Jan. 6 was a “horrible and horrible event” but challenged the prosecutor’s qualification of the attack.
“I think it is dangerous to start launching ‘domestic terrorism’ in circumstances like this,” he said.
U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth has set a September 27 sentencing date for Thompson and Fairlamb, who have been in jail since his January 22 arrest at his home in Stockholm, New Jersey.
Thompson was not arrested after being charged last month with assaulting a Metropolitan Police officer. His lawyers have said in a court file that he suffers from autism spectrum disorder.
Fairlamb’s attorney, Harley Breite, said he would ask the judge for a lower sentence than the guidelines recommended by the government.
Fairlamb’s involvement in the riot “has gutted a lot of his life,” his lawyer said.
“He lost his business. The mortgage on his house where he lives with his wife is in jeopardy. And he’s been publicly disgraced, ”Breite said in an interview after Friday’s remote hearing.
Breite said his client wanted to “pay the price for what he did and then move on.”
“It wasn’t so much the case. It was about his desire to take responsibility for what he had done, to become a better person for the future and to move forward, ”added the lawyer.
Fairlamb pleaded guilty to two counts, obstructing due process and assaulting an officer of the Metropolitan Police Department. The charges carry a maximum of more than 20 years in prison.
Another video captured Fairlamb pushing and hitting a police officer in the head after he left the Capitol, according to the affidavit of an FBI agent.
“As a former MMA fighter, the accused was well aware of the injury he might have inflicted on (the officer),” prosecutors wrote. “His actions and words that day all indicate a specific intention to obstruct a Congressional process through fear, intimidation and violence, including violence against uniformed police officers.”
Fairlamb’s brother was one of the Secret Service agents tasked with protecting former first lady Michelle Obama, Breite said.
Fairlamb’s social media accounts indicated that he subscribed to the QAnon conspiracy theory and promoted a false claim that former President Donald Trump would become the first president of “the New Republic” on March 4, wrote prosecutors. QAnon focused on the baseless belief that Trump was fighting a cabal of Satan-worshiping and child-trafficking cannibals, including “deep state” enemies, prominent Democrats and Hollywood elites.
Rioters believed Trump’s lies that he had a second term stolen due to massive nationwide electoral fraud. In fact, the allegations of massive fraud have been refuted by many judges, state election officials, and even by Trump’s own administration.
On July 27, a House panel investigating the deadly riot heard emotional testimony from four police officers who attempted to defend the Capitol when mobs of Trump supporters stormed the building.
At least nine people who were on Capitol Hill on January 6 died during or after the riots, including Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick, who collapsed after being sprayed by rioters with a chemical irritant. Four other police officers died by suicide, including two Metropolitan Police officers who were found dead in the past month.
Police shot dead a woman, Ashli Babbitt, who was among a group of people trying to break down the bedroom doors of the House. Three other Trump supporters who died had suffered medical emergencies.
More than 560 people have been charged with federal crimes and authorities are still looking for hundreds more. At least 165 defendants have been charged with assaulting, resisting or preventing Capitol Hill officers or employees, including more than 50 people accused of using a deadly or dangerous weapon or causing serious injury to an officer, the Justice Department said in July.
Fairlamb and Thompson are at least the 32nd and 33rd defendants to plead guilty. Most of the rest pleaded guilty to misdemeanor charges, including marching, demonstrating or picketing at a Capitol building.