Federal prosecutors are recommending an eight-year jail sentence for an off-duty Virginia police officer who was convicted by a jury of storming the U.S. Capitol to hinder Congress from certifying President Joe Biden’s 2020 electoral victory.
Former Rocky Mount Police Sgt. Thomas Robertson used his legislation enforcement coaching to dam cops who have been attempting to guard the Capitol from a mob’s assault on Jan. 6, 2021, prosecutors mentioned in a court docket submitting Thursday supporting their sentencing advice.
“As an alternative of utilizing his coaching and energy to advertise the general public good, he tried to overthrow the federal government,” they wrote.
An eight-year jail sentence can be the longest amongst a whole bunch of Capitol riot circumstances. The lengthiest to date is seven years and three months for Man Reffitt, a Texas man who attacked the Capitol whereas armed with a holstered handgun.
U.S. District Decide Christopher Cooper is scheduled to condemn Robertson subsequent Thursday. Prosecutors additionally requested the choose to condemn Robertson to a few years of supervised launch after any jail time period.
Robertson’s legal professional, Mark Rollins, is searching for a sentence beneath a sentencing pointers vary of 27 to 33 months of imprisonment. Prosecutors estimate a sentencing pointers vary of 87 months to 108 months, however Cooper is not sure by any of these estimates or suggestions.
Robertson did not testify at his trial earlier than a jury convicted him in April of all six counts in his indictment, together with expenses that he interfered with cops on the Capitol and that he entered a restricted space with a harmful weapon, a big picket stick.
Robertson’s attorneys mentioned the U.S. Military veteran was utilizing the stick to assist him stroll as a result of he has a limp from getting shot in the precise thigh whereas working as a non-public contractor for the U.S. Protection Division in Afghanistan in 2011.
Of their sentencing memo, prosecutors accused Robertson of mendacity about his army service. Robertson recognized himself on his resume as a U.S. Military Ranger faculty graduate, however his official army information do not assist that declare, prosecutors mentioned. They mentioned Robertson additionally lied to a reporter about receiving a Purple Coronary heart.
Robertson’s jury trial was the second for a Capitol riot case. Reffitt’s was the primary. Jurors have unanimously convicted seven riot defendants of all expenses of their respective indictments.
Robertson traveled to Washington, D.C., on the morning of Jan. 6 with co-worker Jacob Fracker and a 3rd man, a neighbor. Fracker additionally was an off-duty Rocky Mount police officer. He was scheduled to be tried alongside Robertson earlier than he pleaded responsible to a conspiracy cost and agreed to cooperate with authorities.
Fracker testified at Robertson’s trial that he initially believed that he was merely trespassing when he entered the Capitol constructing. However he in the end pleaded responsible to conspiring with Robertson to hinder Congress.
Robertson’s attorneys conceded that he broke the legislation when he entered the Capitol through the riot. They inspired jurors to convict Robertson of misdemeanor offenses however acquit him of felony expenses.
Jurors noticed a few of Robertson’s posts on social media earlier than and after the Capitol riot. In a Fb publish on Nov. 7, 2020, Robertson mentioned “being disenfranchised by fraud is my exhausting line.”
“I’ve spent most of my grownup life combating a counter insurgency. (I’m) about to develop into a part of one, and a really efficient one,” he wrote.
In a letter addressed to the choose, Robertson mentioned he takes full duty for his actions on Jan. 6 and “any poor selections 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 principle.”
“I sat round at evening ingesting an excessive amount of and reacting to articles and websites given to me by Fb” algorithms, he wrote.
The city fired Robertson and Fracker after the riot. Rocky Mount is about 25 miles (40 kilometers) south of Roanoke and has roughly 5,000 residents.
Robertson has been jailed since Cooper dominated final 12 months that he violated the phrases of his pretrial launch by possessing firearms.
Roughly 850 folks have been charged with federal crimes for his or her conduct on Jan. 6. Over 350 of them have pleaded responsible, principally to misdemeanor offenses, and over 220 have been sentenced to date.