An Arkansas man who became notorious for putting his foot on a desk in Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office during the attack on the Capitol by supporters of President Donald J. Trump was sentenced on Wednesday to four and a half years in prison.
The man, Richard “Bigo” Barnett, was found guilty at a trial in January of eight criminal offenses, including interfering with law enforcement during a civil disorder and obstructing the certification of the 2020 election that took place at the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.
After deliberating for less than three hours, a jury in Federal District Court in Washington rejected Mr. Barnett’s testimony that he had ended up in Ms. Pelosi’s office suite while looking for a bathroom and that the 950,000-volt stun gun he was carrying that day was not working.
Prosecutors argued during the trial that Mr. Barnett, 63, arrived at the Capitol “prepared for violence” and intending to stop Mr. Trump from leaving office after losing the 2020 election.
In court papers filed before the sentencing hearing, prosecutors accused Mr. Barnett of seeking to profit from his case by selling autographed photos of himself leaning back with his foot on a desk in Ms. Pelosi’s office and by considering seeking copyright protections for an obscene note he left Ms. Pelosi that day, reading in part, “Hey Nancy, Bigo was here.”
On Wednesday, prosecutors sought to emphasize the lasting scars inflicted by the rioters. They cited Emily Berret, a staff member for Ms. Pelosi who recalled that of eight colleagues who were trapped inside the speaker’s office when the mob first overwhelmed the Capitol, six exited public service shortly thereafter.
Prosecutors also accused Mr. Barnett of lying several times in testimony during his trial, adding that he showed “brazen disrespect for every form of authority he encountered.”
“Barnett recognizes no authority but himself and is willing to do ‘whatever it takes’ to get what he wants,” the prosecutors wrote, “even if it requires harming others, stealing or breaking the law.”
Just before issuing the sentence, Judge Christopher Cooper said he was dismayed by the way Mr. Barnett had sought to cash in on his notoriety.
“You’re 63 years old; you’re too old for this nonsense,” he said. “But for better or worse you have become one of the faces of Jan. 6, and I think you enjoy it.”
Mr. Barnett was among the first defendants arrested in connection with the Jan. 6 assault and quickly became one of the best-known rioters, along with figures like Jacob Chansley, the so-called QAnon Shaman, who stormed the building in a horned helmet and was later sentenced to 41 months in prison.
Mr. Barnett has also frequently and vocally criticized the Justice Department for overreaching in its efforts to investigate the Capitol attack. He has also accused the police officers who defended lawmakers that day of instigating the assault on the building by using what he has described as excessive force.
His lawyers, Jonathan Gross and Bradford Geyer, had asked Judge Cooper to sentence Mr. Barnett to only one year in prison and to give him credit for the nearly four months he spent behind bars before his trial. The lawyers said in court papers that Mr. Barnett still believed the police used a “disproportionate response” during the attack.
“Mr. Barnett is outspoken about his political views and has attended dozens of rallies in his life, but was always peaceful, never violent,” the lawyers wrote.
More than 480 people have been sentenced so far in connection with the Capitol attack, and about 275 are serving at least some time in prison, Justice Department officials say. The terms have ranged from a high of 14 years to only days behind bars.
Alan Feuer covers extremism and political violence. He joined The Times in 1999. @alanfeuer
Zach Montague is based in Washington. He covers breaking news and developments around the district. @zjmontague
Source: Read Full Article