Former Police Officer Gets 87 Months in Capitol Attack

Thomas Robertson's sentence ties the longest prison term imposed in Jan. 6 cases
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Apr 11, 2022 10:20 PM CDT
Updated Aug 11, 2022 7:15 PM CDT
Ex-Cop Convicted in January 6 Capitol Attack
Violent insurrectionists loyal to President Trump, storm the Capitol, Jan. 6, 2021, in Washington.   (AP Photo/John Minchillo, File)

(Newser) Update: A former Virginia police officer convicted in the attack on the Capitol was sentenced to 87 months in prison on Thursday. Prosecutors told the court Thomas Robertson lied about his actions involving the attack, as well as his military service and his marriage, the Washington Post reports. "You were not some bystander who just got swept up in the crowd," Judge Christopher Cooper said to the former Rocky Mount officer Thursday in US District Court in Washington. "It really seems as though you think of partisan politics as war and that you continue to believe these conspiracy theories." The sentence matches the longest imposed so far in the Jan. 6 prosecutions. Our original story from April 11 follows:

A federal jury on Monday convicted a former Virginia police officer of storming the US Capitol with another off-duty officer to obstruct Congress from certifying President Biden’s 2020 electoral victory, the AP reports. Jurors convicted former Rocky Mount police officer Thomas Robertson of all six counts he faced stemming from the Jan. 6, 2021, riot, including charges that he interfered with police officers at the Capitol and that he entered a restricted area with a dangerous weapon, a large wooden stick. His sentencing hearing wasn't immediately scheduled. Robertson’s jury trial was the second among hundreds of Capitol riot cases. The first ended last month with jurors convicting a Texas man, Guy Reffitt, of all five counts in his indictment. (Two others have gone to bench trial; one was convicted, the other acquitted.) Robertson was fired following the Jan. 6 attack.

Robertson didn’t testify at his trial, which started last Tuesday. Jurors deliberated for several hours over two days before reaching their unanimous verdict. One juror, who spoke to the AP only on condition of anonymity, said as she left the courthouse, “I think the government made a really compelling case and the evidence was fairly overwhelming.” A key witness for prosecutors in his case was Jacob Fracker, who also served on the Rocky Mount police force and viewed Robertson as a mentor and father figure. Fracker was scheduled to be tried alongside Robertson before he pleaded guilty last month to a conspiracy charge and agreed to cooperate with authorities. Fracker testified Thursday that he had hoped the mob that attacked the Capitol could overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election.

Fracker testified that he initially believed that he was merely trespassing when he entered the Capitol building. However, he ultimately pleaded guilty to conspiring with Robertson to obstruct Congress. Under cross-examination, Fracker said he didn’t have a “verbal agreement” with anybody to obstruct the joint session of Congress. Fracker said he believed everybody in the mob “pretty much had the same goal” and didn’t need for it to be “said out loud.” Robertson was charged with six counts: obstruction of Congress, interfering with officers during a civil disorder, entering a restricted area while carrying a dangerous weapon, disorderly or disruptive conduct in a restricted area while carrying a dangerous weapon, disorderly or disruptive conduct inside the Capitol building, and obstruction. The last charge stems from his alleged post-riot destruction of cellphones belonging to him and Fracker.

(Read more Capitol riot stories.)

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