- A former cop, Thomas Robertson, received the longest prison term to date in a January 6 case.
- His more than seven-year sentence tied with that of the first Capitol rioter convicted at trial.
- A jury found Robertson guilty of trespassing on Capitol grounds with a wooden stick on January 6.
A federal judge on Thursday sentenced former police officer Thomas Robertson to more than seven years in prison for his role in the January 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol. His punishment caps a criminal case that gave rise to one of the first jury trials linked to the pro-Trump mob's violent attempt to prevent the certification of President Joe Biden's electoral victory.
Robertson's sentence is the same as the 87-month prison term ordered for Guy Reffitt, the first Capitol rioter convicted at trial, as the longest sentence issued to date in a case connected to January 6.
Judge Christopher "Casey" Cooper handed down the sentence four months after a jury found Robertson guilty of all six charges he faced in connection with the January 6 attack. At trial, prosecutors alleged that he trespassed on Capitol grounds with a wooden stick that he used as a baton to block police officers responding to the attack.
Robertson's weeklong trial in federal court featured testimony from another former police officer, Jacob Fracker, who recalled accompanying him at the Capitol on January 6 after attending a pro-Trump rally. In emotional testimony, Fracker described Robertson as not just his sergeant but also his mentor figure in the Rocky Mount, Virginia, police force. The two, who were both fired following their participation in the Capitol attack, referred to each other by nicknames — "dad" and "son."
Just weeks before Robertson went to trial, Fracker testified as part of a plea deal in which he admitted to conspiring to obstruct the joint session of Congress that gathered on January 6 to certify the 2020 election results.
Pointing to the "nature and scope" of Fracker's cooperation, prosecutors on Tuesday recommended that the former police officer avoid prison time and instead be ordered to serve six months of probation, "with a condition of community confinement or home detention." Fracker's sentencing is set for August 16.
The judge's sentence for Robertson fell just below the eight-year prison term federal prosecutors had recommended for Robertson. If ordered, the eight-year sentence would have gone down as the longest prison term handed down to date in a case related to January 6.
Weeks earlier in Reffitt's case, prosecutors recommended that he receive a 15-year prison term — more than twice the sentence he ultimately received from Judge Dabney Friedrich. During an hours-long hearing, Friedrich rejected prosecutors' arguments for classifying Reffitt's conduct as domestic terrorism.
Prosecutors highlighted Reffitt's role as a significant on-the-ground leader for the pro-Trump group who, wearing tactical gear, faced down with police as he led fellow rioters up the steps to the Capitol. Later, after returning home to Texas, Reffitt grew alarmed as the FBI began to arrest suspected Capitol rioters and threatened his children, telling them that they would be traitors if they turned him in — and that "traitors get shot."
Responding to their father's more than seven-year sentence, Reffitt's children publicly stated that former President Donald Trump should face even stiffer punishment for his role in the events of January 6.