A federal judge sentenced a former Rocky Mount, Virginia, police officer to 87 months in prison on Thursday for his involvement in the Capitol riot on January 6, 2021, matching the longest prison term handed down to a rioter to date and demonstrating how former members of the military and law enforcement took part in the bloody uprising.
Judge Christopher Cooper reminded former Virginia police Sgt. Thomas Robertson during a two-hour sentencing hearing in U.S. District Court in Washington that Robertson took an oath to uphold the law when he joined the department. However, the judge claimed that Robertson had informed a close friend that he was ready to fight in a “civil war,” citing witness testimony and text messages. The judge claimed that Robertson broke the court’s order by continuing to keep a high-tech weapon and a “explosive device” at his home even after his arrest and initial release on bail and destroying evidence. When federal authorities eventually re-arrested Robertson, they discovered that, despite the judge’s order, he had planned to purchase more than 30 additional guns while out on bond.
Cooper remarked on Thursday, “You weren’t some bystander who just got carried up in the crowd. “It actually appears like you view partisan politics as war and that you still hold on to these conspiracies,” the speaker said.
Robertson was the second alleged participant in the Jan. 6 riots to go on trial in April. He was accused with six offenses, including civil disorder and obstruction of an official action, and the jury found him guilty on all six charges.
Guy Reffitt, a reputed Three Percenters recruiter, was also given an 87-month jail sentence by a different federal judge in March after being found guilty on counts connected to his claimed involvement in the disturbance, despite the fact that Reffitt never entered the Capitol.
Despite the fact that more than 880 people have been accused by the federal government with taking part in the riot or other connected behavior, only 12 defendants have been found guilty at trial, including 10 who were charged with felonies. A total of 353 people have admitted guilt to various federal offenses, while 280 people have admitted guilt to misdemeanors.
Robertson was one of hundreds of Trump backers who broke into the Capitol building as the riot broke out. He was with Virginian associate Jacob Fracker, with whom he posed for photos in the Capitol crypt.
At Robertson’s sentencing hearing, Department of Justice prosecutor Liz Aloi emphasized pictures obtained during the riot that showed Robertson walking toward Capitol security guards while carrying a sizable wooden stick. He and Fracker were both sporting gas masks, according to the prosecution.
Fracker, a former police officer from Rocky Mount as well, pled guilty to a felony charge of conspiracy to obstruct justice and promised to assist federal prosecutors in their investigation into Robertson. According to court documents, Fracker, who will be sentenced on August 16, is anticipated to get a sentence of six months’ probation in exchange for his cooperation.
On July 28, Robertson, who entered the courtroom donning an orange prison uniform, wrote a four-page handwritten statement to Judge Cooper expressing contrition for his involvement in the violence. I take full responsibility for my choices and actions that day, he stated. “I want to be upfront and clear. I’m not making any justifications for my conduct or activities on January 6, 21.
He continued by explaining how the radicalization that resulted in him taking part in the incident at the Capitol was significantly influenced by disturbances to his personal life. He explained to the judge that a “older acquaintance of mine experienced a fall in his house” in late November 2020, which finally led to a stage 4 brain cancer diagnosis. “Starting on that day, I took over as his main caregiver and point of contact for hospice and medical treatment. All this on top of running my tiny farm and my full-time work as a police sergeant,” Robertson stated.
Robertson claimed that his wife left him at home to care for his ailing friend, who he characterized as “a vociferous and enthusiastic Trump supporter,” at the same time that she accepted a position with the Office of Medical Examiner in New York City. As a result of taking care of him, Robertson claimed, “I got exposed to tons of pro-Trump, anti-Biden media.”
Robertson wrote in his letter to the judge, “The cumulative stress of all this prompted me to start drinking far more, and far harder, alcohol than I ever had. The consequence was disgraceful and not at all indicative of the person I am, or have ever been.
Robertson’s attorney, Mark Rollins, said that although there was video evidence of Robertson approaching Capitol police carrying a huge stick, “We never see him using it,” and the judge agreed. Robertson had “made some mistakes,” but Rollins acknowledged that he had also served his country as a police officer, Army soldier, and defense contractor.
Rollins claimed that although his client’s “life is already a shambles” and pleaded with the judge to be sympathetic in passing sentence, “this man had a good character,” serving the public as both a military and police officer.
On the other hand, prosecutors seriously questioned the veracity and honesty of Robertson’s account in a lengthy sentencing memo that was added to the court file on August 4. They claimed that Robertson “used his law enforcement training to block Metropolitan Police Officers attempting to hold back the mob.”
According to the prosecution, the judge should sentence Robertson to eight years in prison, three years of probation, $2,000 in restitution, and a $100 fine for each of the six criminal counts on which he was found guilty “for his efforts to impede law enforcement, overturn the election results, and destroy the evidence.”
The judge reduced the prosecution’s recommended jail time by nine months in the sentence he issued on Thursday, but he left the prosecution’s recommendations for probation and fines intact. As his trial went on, Robertson was given credit for the 13 months he has already spent in jail.
Within two doors of Vice President Mike Pence’s office, the rioters were. In this 3D explanation from Yahoo Immersive, learn how.
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