A gym owner from New Jersey was sentenced to 41 months in prison by a United States judge on Wednesday for assaulting police and interfering with Congress in the riot at the US Capitol, the most severe punishment so far connected to the January 6 incident.
The sentence imposed by US District Judge Royce Lamberth during a court hearing in Washington, DC, sets a benchmark for 120 other defendants charged with attacking police on January 6.
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More than 100 law enforcement officers were injured during the riot. One died after collapsing and four others have died by suicide.
Scott Fairlamb, a former mixed martial arts (MMA) fighter, had pleaded guilty in August to assaulting a police officer and interfering with official proceedings of Congress. He was captured on video screaming at officers, shoving one and then punching him in the helmet.
Fairlamb was seen picking up a police baton which he carried with him into the Capitol, according to prosecutors who had asked the judge to sentence him to 44 months in jail. He was not seen using it as a weapon.
Fairlamb has already served more than 10 months in jail, most of that in solitary confinement, and his defence lawyer had asked the judge to sentence him to time served.
An emotional Fairlamb, who said he had health problems, addressed the judge during the hearing, saying he has “nothing but remorse” for his actions and that he brought shame upon his family’s name, the Reuters news service reported.
“That’s not who I am,” Fairlamb said. “That’s not who I was raised to be.”
Assistant US Attorney Leslie Goemaat noted Fairlamb’s martial arts training during Wednesday’s court hearing, as well as earlier run-ins with the law.
“He was trained to throw a punch and was well aware of the injury he could cause,” Goemaat said.
Prosecutors had identified Fairlamb as one of the first rioters to breach the Capitol, and said in charging documents he incited and emboldened other rioters around him with his violent actions.
Videos of Fairlamb recorded during the riots showed him saying: “What Patriots do? We f***in’ disarm them and then we storm the f***in’ Capitol!”
“The defendant’s own statements on that day suggest that he came prepared for violence,” Goemaat said.
US authorities had charged Fairlamb with 12 counts of assault and other crimes committed during the riot but dropped all but two in connection with his agreement to plead guilty.
Fairlamb had prior convictions for the unauthorised carrying of a handgun and assault in 2010 and 2018, according to his plea agreement.
Fairlamb’s wife, Andrea, has raised more than $30,000 in an online “Patriot Relief Fund” appeal on a crowd-funding site.
An eight-month prison term was previously the longest sentence among the nearly two dozen rioters who have been sentenced, according to NBC 4 News in Washington, which has been tracking the January 6 cases.