Federal prosecutors are recommending an eight-year prison sentence for an off-duty Virginia police officer who was convicted by a jury of storming the united states capitol to prevent Congress from certifying the electoral victory of President Joe Biden in 2020.
Former Rocky Mount Police Sgt. Thomas Robertson used his law enforcement training to block police officers trying to protect the Capitol from a mob attack on January 6, 2021. prosecutors said in a court filing Thursday supporting his sentencing recommendation.
“Instead of using his training and power to further the public good, he attempted to overthrow the government,” they wrote.
An eight-year prison sentence would be the longest among hundreds of Capitol riot cases. The longest so far is seven years and three months for reffitt-typea Texas man who attacked the Capitol armed with a holstered pistol.
US District Judge Christopher Cooper is scheduled to sentence Robertson next Thursday. Prosecutors also asked the judge to sentence Robertson to three years of supervised release after any prison term.
Robertson’s attorney, Mark Rollins, is seeking a sentence below a sentencing guideline range of 27 to 33 months of imprisonment Prosecutors estimate a sentencing guideline range of 87 months to 108 months, but Cooper is not bound by either estimate or recommendation.
Robertson did not testify at his trial. before a jury convicted him in April on all six counts of his indictment, including charges that he interfered with police officers on Capitol Hill and entered a restricted area with a dangerous weapon, a large wooden stick.
Robertson’s attorneys said the US Army veteran was using the cane to help him walk because he had a limp due to being shot in the right thigh while working as a private contractor for the US Department of Defense in Afghanistan in 2011.
In his sentencing memorandum, prosecutors accused Robertson of lying about his military service. Robertson identified himself on his resume as a graduate of US Army Ranger School, but his official military records do not support that claim, prosecutors said. They said Robertson also lied to a reporter about receiving a Purple Heart.
Robertson’s jury trial was the second in a Capitol riot case. Refitt’s was the first. Jurors have unanimously convicted seven riot defendants of all counts in their respective indictments.
Robertson traveled to Washington, DC, on the morning of January 6 with his co-worker Jacob Fracker and a third man, a neighbor. Fracker was also an off-duty Rocky Mount police officer. He was scheduled to stand trial alongside Robertson before he pleaded guilty to a conspiracy charge and agreed to cooperate with authorities.
Fracker testified at Robertson’s trial that he initially believed he was simply trespassing when he entered the Capitol building. But he eventually pleaded guilty to conspiring with Robertson to obstruct Congress.
Robertson’s attorneys admitted that he broke the law when he entered the Capitol during the riots. They encouraged jurors to convict Robertson of misdemeanors but acquitted him of the felony charges.
Jurors saw some of Robertson’s social media posts before and after the Capitol riots. In a Facebook post on November 7, 2020, Robertson said that “being disenfranchised for fraud is my hard line.”
“I have spent most of my adult life fighting the insurgency. (I am) about to become part of one, and a very effective one,” she wrote.
In a letter addressed to the judgeRobertson said he takes full responsibility for his actions on January 6 and “any bad decisions he made.” He blamed the vitriolic content of his social media posts on a mix of stress, alcohol abuse and “plunging into the deep ‘rabbit holes’ of electoral conspiracy theory.”
“I would sit up at night drinking too much and reacting to the articles and sites that the Facebook algorithms gave me,” he wrote.
The town fired Robertson and Fracker after the riot. Rocky Mount is about 25 miles (40 kilometers) south of Roanoke and has approximately 5,000 residents.
Robertson has been jailed since Cooper ruled last year that he violated the terms of his pretrial release for firearms possession.
Approximately 850 people have been charged with federal crimes for their conduct on January 6. More than 350 of them have pleaded guilty, mostly to misdemeanors, and more than 220 have been sentenced so far.