Jan. 6 Defendants Receiving 3-Year Probation Stints as US Judges Seek to Nix Plans of Repeat Riot

© AP Photo / Jose Luis MaganaIn this Jan. 6, 2021, file photo insurrections loyal to President Donald Trump rally at the U.S. Capitol in Washington. U.S.
In this Jan. 6, 2021, file photo insurrections loyal to President Donald Trump rally at the U.S. Capitol in Washington. U.S. - Sputnik International, 1920, 15.03.2022
Around 225 individuals who stormed the US Capitol building on January 6, 2021, have pleaded guilty to their respective charges, and about 120 of those rioters have been sentenced—including 51 rioters ordered to serve jail time. Overall, more than 750 people have been charged in relation to the government probe, with more than half facing felonies.
As courts continue to issue sentences to Capitol rioters, US judges—including those appointed by Republican presidents—are attempting to quell a 2024 repeat by sentencing individuals to three-year terms of probation, the Washington Post reported on Tuesday.
Per the outlet, judges such as US District Judge Royce C. Lamberth, a Reagan appointee, have warned that the peaceful transfer of presidential power remains under threat due to former US President Donald Trump’s continued claims of election fraud, as well as the downplaying of deadly violence that took place on January 6.
On Monday, Judge Lamberth sentenced 52-year-old James “Les” Little to 60 days behind bars and 36 months of probation. Little, a part-time delivery driver and store worker from North Carolina, is the first January 6 defendant to receive three years of probation on top of a roughly two-month jail sentence.
The 52-year-old pleaded guilty last year, after telling Federal Bureau of Investigation agents that he viewed US President Joe Biden’s electoral college victory as “the second Bolshevik revolution.” He also suggested that the US was “on the brink of civil war.”
Little’s attorney, assistant federal public defender Peter Adolf, argued that his client deserved probation, as he did not take part in any violence or destroy any property while participating in the riot.
Lamberth detailed in a sentencing memo that Little and others accused of lesser crimes were “an essential component to the harm” endured by law enforcement officers who “were overwhelmed by the sheer swath of criminality.”
“The Court must not only punish Little for his conduct but also ensure that he will not engage in similar conduct again during the next election,” Lamberth wrote in his 16-page opinion filed after the hearing. “Only a longer-term period of probation is adequate to ensure that Little will not become an active participant in another riot.
“The riot was not ‘patriotic’ or a legitimate ‘protest’ — it was an insurrection aimed at halting the functioning of our government,” wrote Lamberth.
In a Tuesday hearing, US District Judge Dabney Friedrich sentenced US Army veteran Kevin Daniel Loftus, 53, to three years of probation for his role in the US Capitol insurrection.
Loftus, a Wisconsin resident, pleaded guilty in October 2021 to a single misdemeanor charge of ‘parading and picketing in the Capitol building,’ which is punishable by up to six months in prison.
During the proceedings, Assistant US District Attorney Emory Cole highlighted that the 53-year-old took to a gaming app in August to brag about his role in the insurrection, as well as the publicity associated with the federal charges.
“I do appreciate the government’s concern [about] troubling comments he made while on supervision,” said Friedrich, who was appointed to the District Court by then-President Trump in December 2017.
“He showed a real lack of judgment following the offense and it’s hard to fathom why he fancied himself a hero for his actions on that date, particularly given his service of the country as a member of the US Army.”
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Speaking on his own behalf, Loftus said that although he took part in the Capitol riot due to his rejection of the US electoral and justice system, his “faith in the system has been restored through this case.”
“[A]t every turn of the road, you folks cared about my rights. You made sure all of my rights were protected,” the 53-year-old said on Monday. “And so in that I would like to say that my faith in the system has been restored through this case.”
Loftus was also ordered to perform 60 hours of community service and pay $500 in restitution associated with the $1.5 million in damage to the US Capitol building.
More than 750 people were federally charged in connection with the Capitol riot, with nearly 200 pleading guilty to misdemeanors. Rioters convicted of felonies have been handed prison terms averaging 34 months, while those incarcerated for misdemeanor offenses have received an average 45 days behind bars. according to the Washington Post.
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