7 Years in Jail for Ex-policeman Who Rioted at Us Capitol!
A Virginia police officer who was off-duty on January 6, 2021, when he and another officer stormed the U.S. Capitol, was sentenced to more than seven years in prison on Thursday. This is the same as the longest prison sentence given so far in any Capitol riot case.
Former Rocky Mount Police Sgt. Thomas Robertson declined to address the court before U.S. District Judge Christopher Cooper sentenced him to seven years and three months in prison. Cooper also sentenced Robertson to three years of supervised release after his prison term.
Federal prosecutors had said that Robertson should spend eight years in prison. Guy Reffitt, a man from Texas, attacked the Capitol while he had a gun in his holster. He got the same sentence as him.
Robertson gets credit for the 13 months he has already spent in jail. Cooper said last year that Robertson broke the rules of his pretrial release by having guns, so he put him in jail.
The judge said he was troubled by Robertson’s conduct since his arrest — not only his stockpiling of guns but also his words advocating for violence. After Jan. 6, Robertson told a friend that he was prepared to fight and die in a civil war and he clung to baseless conspiracy theories that the 2020 election was stolen from then-President Donald Trump, the judge noted.
Sentencing guidelines calculated by Cooper recommended a prison term ranging from seven years and three months to nine years.
“It’s a long time because it reflects the seriousness of the offenses that you were convicted of,” the judge said.
In April, a jury found Robertson guilty of attacking the Capitol to stop Congress from recognizing Joe Biden as the next president. Jurors found Robertson guilty of all six charges against him, which included interfering with Capitol police officers and going into a restricted area with a dangerous weapon, a big wooden stick.
Robertson’s lawyers said the Army veteran was using the stick to help him walk because he has a limp from getting shot in the right thigh while working as a private contractor for the Defense Department in Afghanistan in 2011.
The judge agreed with the jury that Robertson went to the Capitol on January 6 to disrupt the joint session of Congress. Cooper said that Robertson was “an active and willing participant” and not just “some random bystander” who got caught up in the crowd.
Jacob Fracker, another off-duty Rocky Mount police officer, and a third man, a neighbor who wasn’t charged in the case, went with Robertson to Washington that morning.
Fracker was supposed to go to trial with Robertson, but in March, he pleaded guilty to a conspiracy charge and agreed to help the feds. Fracker will get a sentence from Cooper next Tuesday.
Prosecutors have asked Cooper not to put Fracker in jail and instead give him six months of probation and a period of “community confinement” at home. They said that Fracker’s “fulsome” cooperation and testimony at trial were very important in getting Robertson convicted.
Mark Rollins, Robertson’s lawyer, asked for a prison sentence of fewer than two years and three months. He didn’t think it was fair that Robertson and Fracker were given very different sentences since they had done similar things.
Robertson served his country and community with distinction, his lawyer told the judge. “His life already is in shambles,” Rollins said.
Robertson and Fracker were among several current or former law enforcement officers who joined in the riot. Prosecutors say Robertson used his law enforcement and military training to block police officers who were trying to hold off the advancing mob.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Elizabeth Aloi said Robertson was prepared for violence when he went to the Capitol and did a “victory lap” inside the building, where he posed for a selfie with Fracker.
“The defendant is, by all accounts, proud of his conduct on Jan. 6,” she said.
Jurors saw some of Robertson’s posts on social media before and after the riot. In a Facebook post on Nov. 7, 2020, Robertson said “being disenfranchised by fraud is my hard line.“
“Most of my adult life has been spent fighting a counterinsurgency. “I’m about to join one, and it will be a very good one,” he wrote.
In a letter addressed to the judge, Robertson said he took full responsibility for his actions on Jan. 6 and “any poor decisions I made.” He blamed the vitriolic content of his social media posts on a mix of stress, alcohol abuse, and “submersion in deep ‘rabbit holes’ of election conspiracy theory.”
He wrote, “At night, I sat around drinking too much and responding to articles and websites that Facebook gave me.”
The town fired Robertson and Fracker after the riot. Rocky Mount is about 25 miles south of Roanoke, Va., and has about 5,000 residents.
About 850 people were charged with federal crimes because of what they did on January 6. More than 350 of them have pleaded guilty, mostly to misdemeanors, and more than 230 have been sentenced so far.
The first Capitol riot case to be tried by a jury was Reffitt’s. Robertson’s was the second. All of the charges against seven Capitol rioters were found to be true by all of the jurors.