U.S. prosecutors seek longest prison sentences yet for Capitol rioters

by Reuters
Wednesday, 10 November 2021 16:55 GMT

(Note language that may offend readers, paragraph 7) (Updates with court hearing underway, fresh quotes and details, paragraphs 5-9)

By Jan Wolfe and Mark Hosenball

WASHINGTON, Nov 10 (Reuters) - U.S. prosecutors are seeking the stiffest punishments yet for participants in the deadly Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, urging judges to make an example out of a man filmed punching a police officer and another who stormed the Senate chamber wearing a horned headdress.

At a court hearing on Wednesday, government lawyers will ask a judge to hand down a 44-month prison sentence for Scott Fairlamb, a former Mixed Martial Arts fighter from New Jersey, who pleaded guilty in August to assaulting a police officer.

He was captured screaming at officers by their body-worn cameras before shoving one and then punching him in the face.

He is to be sentenced by U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth in Washington.

Justice Department lawyer Leslie Goemaat highlighted Fairlamb's martial arts training during the court hearing, as well as earlier run-ins with the law.

"He was trained to throw a punch and was well aware of the injury he could cause," Goemaat said.

Goemaat also mentioned a video Fairlamb recorded during the riots in which he said: "What Patriots do? We fuckin' disarm them and then we storm the fuckin' Capitol!"

"The defendant's own statements on that day suggest that he came prepared for violence," Goemaat said.

Goemaat said Lamberth should also impose a fine on Fairlamb because he has raised $30,000 from an online fundraiser.

About 700 people have been charged with joining the Capitol violence, when supporters of former Republican President Donald Trump fought with police, smashed windows and charged through the building in an attempt to overturn his election defeat.

So far, about 120 people have pleaded guilty and two dozen have been sentenced. Most of the guilty pleas have involved non-violent misdemeanor offenses carrying short jail sentences or probationary sentences.

In one case, prosecutors in a late-night court filing recommended a four-year, three-month sentence for Jacob Chansley, the participant in the Jan. 6 riots nicknamed the "QAnon Shaman."

Lamberth, who is also handling Chansley's case, will sentence him on Nov. 17.

In a court filing, Fairlamb's defense lawyer asked the judge to "take into consideration the approximate 11 months the defendant has already served in custody" and not add additional time.

Attorney Harley Breite said his client has accepted responsibility for his actions, adding that Fairlamb is interested in "proving to himself, his family and friends, that he is no longer in any part, the person seen in those troubling videos."

Chansley's attorney, Albert Watkins, said in a Tuesday court filing that Chansley should be released "as soon as possible," noting that he will have spent more than 10 months in pretrial detention.

"I can say with confidence that Mr. Chansley is in dire need of mental health treatment," Watkins said in the filing, adding that further time behind bars "jeopardizes his mental stability." (Reporting by Jan Wolfe and Mark Hosenball in Washington; Editing by Scott Malone, Dan Grebler and Alistair Bell)

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