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May 6, 2023

Longest sentence yet in Jan 6 case, 14+ years in federal prison, given to man with 38 priors

As reported in this Fox News piece, a "Kentucky man with a long criminal record was sentenced Friday to a record-setting 14 years in prison for attacking police officers with pepper spray and a chair as he stormed the U.S. Capitol with his wife." Here is more:

Peter Schwartz’s prison sentence is the longest so far among hundreds of Capitol riot cases.  The judge who sentenced Schwartz also handed down the previous longest sentence — 10 years — to a retired New York Police Department officer who assaulted a police officer outside the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.  Prosecutors had recommended a prison sentence of 24 years and 6 months for Schwartz, a welder.

U.S. District Judge Amit Mehta sentenced Schwartz to 14 years and two months in prison, followed by three years of supervised release.  Mehta said Schwartz was a "soldier against democracy" who participated in "the kind of mayhem, chaos that had never been seen in the country's history."

"You are not a political prisoner," the judge told him. "You're not somebody who is standing up against injustice or fighting against an autocratic regime."

Schwartz briefly addressed the judge before learning his sentence, saying, "I do sincerely regret the damage that Jan. 6 has caused to so many people and their lives."  The judge said he didn't believe Schwartz's statement, noting his lack of remorse. "You took it upon yourself to try and injure multiple police officers that day," Mehta said.

Schwartz was armed with a wooden tire knocker when he and his then-wife, Shelly Stallings, joined other rioters in overwhelming a line of police officers on the Capitol’s Lower West Terrace, where he threw a folding chair at officers. "By throwing that chair, Schwartz directly contributed to the fall of the police line that enabled rioters to flood forward and take over the entire terrace," prosecutor Jocelyn Bond wrote in a court filing.

Schwartz, 49, also armed himself with a police-issued "super soaker" canister of pepper spray and sprayed it at retreating officers.  to a tunnel entrance, Schwartz coordinated with two other rioters, Markus Maly and Jeffrey Brown, to spray an orange liquid toward officers clashing with the mob.  "While the stream of liquid did not directly hit any officer, its effect was to heighten the danger to the officers in that tunnel," Bond wrote....

Stallings pleaded guilty last year to riot-related charges and was sentenced last month to two years of incarceration.

Schwartz was tried with co-defendants Maly and Brown.  In December, a jury convicted all three of assault charges and other felony offenses.  Mehta sentenced Brown last Friday to four years and six months in prison.  Maly is scheduled to be sentenced June 9.

Schwartz’s attorneys requested a prison sentence of four years and six months.  They said his actions on Jan. 6 were motivated by a "misunderstanding" about the 2020 presidential election.  Then-President Donald Trump and his allies spread baseless conspiracy theories that Democrats stole the election from the Republican incumbent....

Schwartz was on probation when he joined the Jan. 6 riot. His criminal record includes a "jaw-dropping" 38 prior convictions since 1991, "several of which involved assaulting or threatening officers or other authority figures," Bond wrote....

The 10-year prison sentence that Mehta handed down in September to retired NYPD officer Thomas Webster had remained the longest until Friday.  Webster had used a metal flagpole to assault an officer and then tackled the same officer as the mob advanced toward the Capitol.

May 6, 2023 at 06:20 PM | Permalink


with his record and for his crime, he should have received at least 20. So says Judge anon.

Posted by: anon | May 6, 2023 7:36:25 PM

Given this defendant'[s criminal history, I think he got off lightly. The Court could easily have imposed a 20 year sentence, and it would no be reversed on appeal. I once worked on a sentencing Memorandum for a defendant who had 38 criminal history points, more than double the number of points needed to get him to the top category, VI! Yet there were no violent crimes and no weapons involved in any of his cases. He had 6 misdemeanor shoplifting cases from 6 different WalMart stores, and 5 misdemeanor possessions of marijuana, a few bad checks, and my favorite crimes, DUI on a jet ski on a Kentucky lake and jet skiing after dusk on the lake (Cave Run Lake). Because this defendant had a prior felony drug conviction, he was facing up to 30 years in prison on his current Federal drug case. Going into sentencing, we estimated a sentence of 12 to 14 years, if we were fortunate. The Judge imposed a 9 year sentence, with a recommendation for the BOPs drug treatment program, which could take a year off the sentence upon successful complete. It was a big defense win.

We also defeated the Federal DEA agents' attempt at Sentencing Entrapment. The Government's informant had asked the defendant's boss if he could get him a pistol, which he could no do himself because, as he revealed, he was a convicted felon. The next time the defendants met the informant, the boss (who was driving) produced a 9 mm pistol and asked his passenger (our client) to pass the weapon out the window to the informant. We pointed out to the Court that our client was not in the car when the informant had revealed that he was a felon and asked the drug ring leader if he could get him a pistol. Further, simply passing a gun out a window amounts to only "transient possession", so our client did not get a gun enhancement himself either. At that time (2014), the 6th Circuit had not ruled on "transient possession", so I cited cases from the 5 Circuits that had so ruled. Sentencing entrapment can be a serious problem with some Federal agents and their informants.

Posted by: Jim Gormley | May 8, 2023 1:20:06 PM

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