Matthew Mazzocco sentenced to prison despite prosecutors’ request for home confinement
A man from Texas who joined the mob that stormed the United States Capitol on January 6. was sentenced to 45 days behind bars on Monday even though prosecutors were not seeking jail time, after the judge lambasted comparisons between the riot that day and Black Lives Matter’s protests over racial injustice .
US District Judge Tanya Chutkan called it a false equivalence “to compare the actions of people demonstrating, mostly peacefully, for civil rights” to the mob “trying to overthrow the government.” She said this “ignores the very real danger that the January 6 riots pose to the foundation of our democracy.”
The judge’s remarks in the case against Matthew Mazzocco of San Antonio came days after another Washington federal court judge suggested the Justice Department was too hard on the Jan. 6 defendants compared to people arrested during protests after George Floyd’s murder.
Judge Trevor McFadden, a person appointed by former President Donald Trump, asked on Friday why federal prosecutors had not brought more charges against those who participated in the summer 2020 protests and said the Department of Justice “would have more credibility if he were impartial in his concern about the riots and crowds in this city. He sentenced Danielle Doyle of Oklahoma to probation after prosecutors recommended two months of house arrest.
Chutkan, who was appointed by former President Barack Obama, said she “categorically” disagreed with the suggestion raised by “some people” that the January 6 defendants were being treated unfairly. In fact, she said she believed those who joined the pro-Trump mob were treated more leniently than many other defendants.
She noted that the vast majority of the rioters were not arrested on January 6 but were allowed to return home and that many defendants, like Mazzocco, were only charged with misdemeanors despite what she called the “premeditated decision to come to the district to try to stop the peaceful transfer of power.
Some of the Jan. 6 defendants and their Republican allies have claimed the Justice Department treated rioters on Capitol Hill harshly because of their political views, while those who caused violence in the wake of Floyd’s murder benefited from the clemency. But an Associated Press analysis of court documents in more than 300 federal cases stemming from racial injustice protests showed dozens of people have been convicted of serious crimes and sent to jail.
Prosecutors had requested three months of house arrest for Mazzocco, who pleaded guilty to a single felony charge of demonstrating on Capitol Hill. Mazzocco spent 12 minutes inside the building and posted a selfie on Facebook after the riot with the caption: “The capital is ours! Assistant U.S. Attorney Kimberley Nielsen noted that he was among the first January 10 defendants to accept responsibility for his actions.
In a letter that Mazzocco’s lawyer read to the judge, he called his decision to enter the Capitol as “one of the most stupid and impulsive decisions” of his life. He told the judge that his actions had taken a heavy toll on him and that he had received “countless death threats”.
“Since that day, I have lived with a sense of shame, grief and remorse, not because I am going through legal issues, but because I see the country I love so deeply divided as never before. Mazzocco wrote.
The judge said Mazzocco’s participation in the riot warranted jail time, even though he did not steal or destroy or injure anyone on Capitol Hill. She said that “the rioters who committed violence that day did so because they had safety in numbers”, thanks to those like Mazzocco.
“Sir. Mazzocco did not go to the United States Capitol out of love or support for our country, he went there to support a man who he said had been taken out of the elections,” a- she declared.
About 90 January 6 defendants have pleaded guilty, mostly to minor misdemeanor charges, but only a handful of them have been convicted so far. Two other defendants, who pleaded guilty to another charge of disorderly driving, were also sentenced last week to 45 days behind bars.
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