(AP) – A New Jersey gym owner and a Washington state man were first indicted on Friday January 6th riot in the US Capitol plead guilty of assaulting a police officer during the deadly siege.
The two federal attorney pleading deals could set a benchmark for dozens of other cases of Capitol rioters being charged with attacking the police to halt certification of President Joe Biden’s election victory. Both defendants face more than three years’ imprisonment if a judge adheres to the condemnation guidelines set out in the pleading agreements.
The estimated sentencing guidelines for Scott Kevin Fairlamb range from approximately 3 1/2 to 4 1/4 years in prison. But the judge is not bound by that recommendation when convicting Fairlamb, a 44-year-old former mixed martial arts fighter who owned the Fairlamb Fit gym in Pompton Lakes, New Jersey. The Fairlamb attorney and prosecutors may apply for a penalty above or below these guidelines.
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, Washington, pleaded guilty to assaulting a police officer with a dangerous weapon, a truncheon.
The same judge who accepted Fairlamb’s admission of guilt ordered Thompson to be detained in Seattle. Thompson has been free since joining the Capitol Rising.
The appeals come less than two weeks after a group of police officers testified at a congressional hearing about their harrowing confrontations with the insurgent mob. Five officers who were in the Capitol that day died, four of them by suicide. The Justice Department said rioters attacked around 140 police officers on January 6th. About 80 of them were US Capitol Police officers and about 60 were from the Washington, DC, Metropolitan Police Department.
Fairlamb, whose brother is a US intelligence agent, was one of the first people to speak out against the Capitol after other rioters smashed windows with protective shields and stepped through a locked door, according to the Federal Prosecutor’s Office. After leaving the building, Fairlamb harassed a number of police officers, yelled in their faces and blocked their way through the mob, prosecutors wrote in a court file.
A video showed him holding a collapsible baton and shouting, “What (do) patriots? We f ——— disarm them and then we storm the f ——— Capitol! “
U.S. Assistant Attorney Tejpal Chawla said Thompson was on the front lines in the most violent clashes that day in a Capitol tunnel.
“This is one of the greatest domestic terrorism incidents in US history, with a group of individuals attacking the citadel of our constitutional democracy in an attempt to overturn the current election results of the President of the United States,” said Chawla.
Thomas Durkin, one of Thompson’s attorneys, said January 6th was a “terrible, terrible event” but denied the prosecution’s characterization of the attack.
“I think it’s dangerous to throw ‘domestic terrorism’ around in such circumstances,” he said.
US District Judge Royce Lamberth set September 27 as the sentencing date for both Thompson and Fairlamb, who has been detained at his home in Stockholm, New Jersey since his January 22nd arrest.
Thompson was not arrested after being charged with assaulting a Metropolitan Police officer last month. His lawyers said in a court file that he had an autism spectrum disorder.
Fairlambs attorney Harley Breite said he would seek a sentence from the judge that is below government recommended guidelines.
Fairlamb’s involvement in the riot “gutted large parts of his life,” said his lawyer.
“He lost his business. The mortgage on his house where he lives with his wife is in jeopardy. And he was publicly embarrassed, “said Breite in an interview after the remote hearing on Friday.
Breite said his client wanted to “pay the price for what he did and then get on with his life”.
“It wasn’t so much about the deal. It was about his desire to stand by what he did, make himself a better person for the future, and move on, ”added the lawyer.
Fairlamb pleaded guilty to two counts: obstruction of due process and assault on a Metropolitan Police Department officer. The lawyers are imprisoned for a maximum of more than 20 years.
Another video showed Fairlamb knocking and beating a police officer in the head after leaving the Capitol, according to an FBI agent’s affidavit.
“As a former MMA fighter, the defendant was aware of the harm he (the officer) could have inflicted,” the prosecutors wrote. “His actions and words on 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 intelligence agents charged with protecting former first lady Michelle Obama, Breite said.
Fairlamb’s social media accounts revealed that he subscribed to the QAnon conspiracy theory and made a false claim, the earlier one President Donald Trump March become the first president of the “new republic”, wrote the prosecutors. QAnon has focused on the unfounded belief that Trump was fighting a cabal of cannibals who worship Satan and engage in child sex trafficking, including enemies of the “deep state,” prominent Democrats and Hollywood elites.
The rioters believed Trump’s lies that he had been robbed of a second term nationwide because of massive election fraud. In fact, Allegations of massive fraud have been refuted from numerous judges, state election officials and even from Trump’s own government.
On July 27, a House of Representatives panel investigating the deadly riot heard emotional testimony from four police officers trying to defend the Capitol when a mob of Trump supporters stormed the building.
At least nine people in the Capitol on January 6 died during or after the riot, including Capitol cop Brian Sicknick, who collapsed after being sprayed with a chemical irritant by rioters. Four other police officers have died of suicide, including two Metropolitan Police officers who were found dead last month.
Police shot and killed a woman, Ashli Babbitt, who was part of a group of people who tried to break down the doors of the chamber of the house. Three other deceased Trump supporters 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 were charged with assaulting, resisting, or interfering with Capitol officials or employees, including more than 50 people charged with the use of a deadly or dangerous weapon, or the grievous bodily harm of 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 others have pleaded guilty to criminal charges, including parades, demonstrations or picket lines in a Capitol.
Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.