Capitol rioter who set foot on Nancy Pelosi’s desk is sentenced to more than 4 years: NPR
Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP
WASHINGTON — An Arkansas man who propped his feet up on a desk in then-President Nancy Pelosi’s office in a widely circulated photo from the U.S. Capitol riot was sentenced Wednesday to more than four years in prison. prison.
Richard “Bigo” Barnett became one of the faces of the Jan. 6 riot by supporters of then-President Donald Trump, and U.S. District Judge Christopher Cooper said when announcing the sentence that Barnett sometimes seemed to enjoy Notoriety.
“Everyone who follows ‘Bigo’ needs to know that the actions of January 6 cannot be repeated without serious repercussions,” Cooper said, hinting at the media and social media attention following Barnett being drawn. after the riot.
The 54-month sentence for Barnett, a retired firefighter from Gravette, Arkansas, comes after he was found guilty at trial of eight counts, including felony charges of civil disorder and obstruction of official process , in this case January 6, 2021, session of Congress to certify Joe Biden’s victory over Trump in the 2020 presidential election.
Photos of Barnett lying on a desk in Pelosi’s office made him one of the most memorable figures in the riot. Barnett, 63, testified he was “going with the flow” and struck a pose after press photographers told him to “act natural”.
He told the judge that joining the riot was “an enigma in my life” which he regretted, but said prosecutors wanted him to feel “remorse for things I didn’t do”.
“January 6 was a traumatic day for everyone, not just law enforcement,” he said. He has vowed to appeal his conviction. He testified at trial that he had been dragged with the mob into the Capitol and was looking for a bathroom when he unknowingly walked into Pelosi’s office and encountered two press photographers.
Cooper, however, said he did not believe Barnett played such a passive role.
It was established at trial that Barnett smuggled a stun gun with spikes into the Capitol, concealed in a collapsible cane. Barnett also took a piece of Pelosi’s mail and left a note that read, “Nancy, Bigo was there,” punctuating the message with a sexist expletive.
Before leaving the Capitol, Barnett used a megaphone to deliver a speech to the crowd, shouting, “We’ve taken over our house and I’ve taken Nancy Pelosi’s office!” according to prosecutors.
Prosecutors also said Barnett has since posted “lies” on social media about Jan. 6 and downplayed his role. “The defendant still believes he can say or do whatever he wants and if someone else is threatened with it, that’s his problem,” prosecutor Alison Prout said.
Defense attorney Jonathan Gross said Barnett did not harm anyone or damage property and was singled out because the photo made him famous.
“Mr Barnett should not be punished because the government thinks he is a symbol,” he said.
Cooper’s sentence fell short of the roughly seven years prosecutors are asking for, though that’s more than defense attorneys’ request for a 12-month sentence.
More than 1,000 people have been charged with federal crimes related to the Capitol riot. Just over 500 of them were convicted. More than half were sentenced to prison terms ranging from one week to more than 14 years.
Also on Wednesday, a Pennsylvania man was sentenced to five years in prison after being convicted of assault and other charges during the riot. Prosecutors say Robert Morss, of Glenshaw, Pennsylvania, dressed in fatigues and attempted to grab an officer’s baton and stole a riot shield from another, while working to organize members of the crowd to fend off the Capitol guards. He yelled at officers, “Take a look. We’re going to take over our Capitol,” prosecutors said.
A lawyer for Morss, 29, declined to comment after his sentencing. His attorney, Nick Smith, noted in court papers that his client served three tours in Afghanistan as a member of the military and had already served two years behind bars. Morss alleges he was abused by guards in prison.
“This case has already turned Morss’s life upside down. The government’s suggestion that these blows are insufficient to deter the one-time situational crimes that Morss has committed is nonsense,” Smith wrote.