DOJ seeking longest sentence yet for Jan. 6 defendant

(The Hill) – The Department of Justice (DOJ) will seek a 24-year prison sentence for a Jan. 6 rioter convicted of assaulting police officers, which if imposed would be the longest term of any case related to the 2021 attack at the Capitol. 

In a sentencing memo submitted on Monday, federal prosecutors argued that Peter Schwartz already had a lengthy criminal record before the events on Jan. 6, when he and others assaulted groups of officers. 

Schwartz, a Uniontown, Pennsylvania native, was convicted last December of several charges for his role in the Capitol insurrection, including four counts of felony assaulting, resisting, or impeding law enforcement officers using a dangerous weapon. 

The DOJ said that Schwartz — who traveled to Washington, D.C. with his then-wife Shelley Stallings — “stole chemical munitions, including pepper spray, that had been left behind by the fleeing officers and used that pepper spray as a weapon to attack those same officers as they desperately tried to escape the growing and increasingly violent mob.” 

Federal prosecutors also alleged that Schwartz assaulted several groups of police officers during the riot and “did not back down, adding that he “joined the larger mob inside of the tunnel in attempting to push through the police line and into the Capitol Building.” 

“By Schwartz’s own admission, he viewed himself as being at ‘war’ that day, stating in a Facebook post on January 7, 2021, ‘What happened yesterday was the opening of a war. I was there and whether people will acknowledge it or not we are now at war,’” the DOJ’s memo reads. 

Prosecutors recommended a sentence of 294 months for the 49-year-old Schwartz, which it noted was at the “midpoint” of sentencing guidelines for his crimes.

Schwartz’s legal team recommended that their client should serve a sentence of 54 months in prison, arguing that Schwartz “did not come prepared to incite violence, attack the Capitol Building or any officers that day—none of his actions on January 6th were planned in anticipation of his travels.”

Schwartz’s legal team added in their memo that their client knew “next to nothing about the 2020 election and listened to sources of information that were clearly false. Mr. Schwartz has learned valuable life lessons from this incident, and he will never repeat the actions that bring him before the Court in this case.”

Schwartz’s sentencing hearing is expected to happen next month, according to CBS News.

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