A federal judge in Washington, DC accused Justice Department prosecutors of being too lenient on rioters who stormed the US Capitol on January 6, saying that they’re only paying $1.5million in restitution while taxpayers face a $521million bill.
Chief US District Judge Beryl A. Howell made the comments during a plea hearing for a Colorado man who has pleaded guilty to his role in the riot at the US Capitol building that disrupted the certification of the presidential election.
Howell’s comments were reported by The Washington Post.
In late July, the Democratic-controlled Congress passed a $2.1billion package aimed at bolstering security at the Capitol and repaying outstanding debts from the riot.
The legislation, which was signed into law by President Joe Biden, includes $521million for the National Guard and $70million for the Capitol Police.
That law also allocates $300million for Capitol security improvements.
Chief US District Judge Beryl A. Howell wondered why US Capitol rioters from the January 6 attack are only paying $1.5million in restitution while taxpayers are paying some $500million
Howell made the comments during a plea hearing for a Colorado man, Glenn Wes Lee Croy, who has pleaded guilty to his role in the riot at the US Capitol building that disrupted the certification of the presidential election
The federal prosecutor, Assistant US Attorney Clayton Henry O’Connor, told Howell that the government would offer a response as to how it computed the damage and restitution estimate.
In June, prosecutors said that the January 6 rioters caused ‘approximately $1,495,326.55’ worth of damage, though it is unclear how they reached this figure.
The Post reported that the number was most likely an estimate that took into account the cost of replacing broken windows, doors, and other property.
The judge made the comments during a hearing in which Glenn Wes Lee Croy, of Colorado Springs, pleaded guilty to demonstrating inside the Capitol, The Gazette reported.
He reportedly bragged on social media that he had been at the Capitol on January 6 and sent someone a photo of himself as proof.
The person sent the photo to the FBI, according to court documents.
The photo shows Croy and another man posing with a bust of Abraham Lincoln located around the Small House Rotunda in the Capitol’s south wing.
Croy reportedly bragged on social media that he had been at the Capitol on January 6 and sent someone a photo of himself as proof. The person sent the photo to the FBI, according to court documents. The photo shows Croy (right) and another man posing with a bust of Abraham Lincoln located around the Small House Rotunda in the Capitol’s south wing
Investigators say Croy also sent the person video from inside the Capitol.
The person told agents Croy had a Twitter account that included posts about traveling to Washington, DC, and investigators were also able to access records that showed Croy’s phone was in the Capitol on the day of the riot, according to an arrest affidavit.
Croy faces up to six months in prison when he is sentenced October 15.
During the hearing on Monday, Howell asked federal prosecutors why they were seeking just $2,000 for each felony case and just $500 in each misdemeanor case.
‘I’m accustomed to the government being fairly aggressive in terms of fraud when there have been damages that accrue from a criminal act for the restitution amount,’ said Howell.
‘Where we have Congress acting, appropriating all this money due directly to the events of January 6th, I have found the damage amount of less than $1.5million – when all of us American taxpayers are about to foot the bill for close to half a billion dollars – a little bit surprising.’
More than 535 people have been charged with taking part in violence when Trump supporters stormed the Capitol in an attempt to stop Congress from certifying Democratic President Joe Biden’s election victory.
Trump claimed he lost the election because of widespread electoral fraud, but offered no proof to back up that allegation.
Scott Fairlamb, 44, of Stockholm, New Jersey, entered guilty pleas on Friday to charges of assaulting police and obstructing an official proceeding during the attack on the Capitol
This screengrab allegedly shows Fairlamb punching a DC Police officer in the head on the West Front of the Capitol during the invasion on January 6
Meanwhile, a former boxer charged with punching a Washington police officer in the head during the attack faces a sentence of up to 51 months in prison after pleading guilty on Friday to two felony charges.
Scott Fairlamb, 44, of Stockholm, New Jersey, entered guilty pleas to charges of assaulting police and obstructing an official proceeding during the attack on the Capitol.
Prosecutors asked for a sentence of 41 to 51 months in prison.
US District Judge Royce Lamberth said he would not sentence Fairlamb until he receives a pre-sentence report.
So far, one other Capitol riot defendant who pleaded guilty has been sentenced to serve an eight-month prison term, a law enforcement official said.
A handful of defendants were sentenced to time served in pre-trial detention after pleading guilty.
An FBI affidavit said a concerned citizen submitted a video showing Fairlamb ‘shove and punch’ a police officer during the riot.
Video submitted by another member of the public showed Fairlamb climbing on a metal scaffolding outside the building.