U.S. Capitol Rioter Gets Five Years in the Longest Sentence Yet Handed Down
(Bloomberg) -- A Florida man who was one of the first people to plead guilty to crimes stemming from the Jan. 6 Capitol riot was sentenced to five years in prison for assaulting law enforcement officers -- the longest such term yet.
Robert Palmer, described by his lawyer as a father of four and a “successful businessman,” was sentenced Friday by U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan in Washington after admitting to attacking police with a fire extinguisher, a wood plank and a five-foot pole that he launched like a spear.
The U.S. Justice Department requested the stiff term despite Palmer’s early cooperation with investigators, noting that he had falsely claimed on social media that his actions were “purely defensive.”
“I don’t expect my client to appeal,” Palmer’s lawyer, Bjorn Brunvand, said in an email. “While we had hoped for a more lenient sentence, we understand that this was a serious and difficult case.”
Palmer’s attempt to get less time largely hinged on blaming Donald Trump, accusing the former president and his Republican allies of luring him and hundreds of others to the Capitol with false claims that the election had been stolen by corrupt Democrats.
“Those voices, including the voice of the then-president himself, had convinced persons such as Mr. Palmer that the election was fraudulent and that they must take action to stop the transition of the presidency,” Brunvand in a sentencing memorandum.
The U.S. balked at his claim to have seen the light, telling the court in a sentencing memorandum that there was “good reason to be skeptical” of Palmer’s “eleventh hour” conversion.
“Palmer does not explain what caused this complete reversal in his worldview, nor does he identify any new information that was not available to him when he committed his crime,” the U.S. said.
Palmer pleaded guilty in October. He’s one of about 700 people charged in connection with the assault on the Capitol almost one year ago. At least 138 have pleaded guilty to misdemeanor charges and at least 23 have pleaded guilty to felony charges, the U.S. said.
“It seems like the judges who have these cases are taking them very seriously and sentencing them according to the facts specific to their cases, as they’re supposed to do,” said former federal prosecutor Jennifer Rodgers. “This was a serious assault with a dangerous weapon.”
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