WASHINGTON — A former Virginia police officer who stormed the United States Capitol was sentenced to more than seven years in federal prison on Thursday, tied with another Jan. 6 defendant for the longest sentence to date .
A jury in Washington convicted Thomas Robertson, who had been a police officer in Rocky Mount, Va., on all six counts in April. His former colleague and co-defendant Jacob Fracker, who reached a plea deal, said Robertson wanted to ‘cancel’ the election and would not have gone to Washington if it hadn’t been for Robertson . Prosecutors told jurors that Robertson “got right in the middle” on Jan. 6 and was carrying a baton as he blocked officers’ paths to the Capitol.
“You weren’t a bystander who just got swept up in the crowd,” U.S. District Judge Christopher Cooper told Robertson as the defendant stood before him dressed in an orange prison jumpsuit.
Cooper said it still appears Robertson believes in former President Donald Trump’s conspiracy theories about the 2020 presidential election, and he said he believed Robertson would “answer a call” for violence in the future.
Referring to the baton Robertson carried, U.S. Attorney Matthew M. Graves of the District of Columbia said in a post-sentence statement, “Thomas Robertson, although he was sworn in when he became a police officer, joined the mob violent in the Capitol. on January 6, 2021, and did so while armed. Today’s sentence holds him accountable for his role in the violence that day.
The Rocky Mount Police Department fired Robertson and Fracker after their arrest.
Prosecutors had been looking for what would have been a record sentence for Robertson, but Cooper ultimately decided to go slightly lower, at the lower end of the sentencing guidelines. Giving Robertson a sentence that matched that of Guy Reffitt, another Jan. 6 defendant who went to trial, Cooper noted that their cases were similar in many ways.
Cooper said he doesn’t believe Robertson actually took responsibility for his actions on Jan. 6.
A federal prosecutor said at sentencing Thursday that Robertson “used his police and military training” to prevent Washington police officers from doing their job on Jan. 6. Robertson, they argued, showed “complete disregard for the rule of law” firearms after his arrest.
In court documents filed before his sentencing, the Justice Department said Robertson lied about his military background and several other aspects of the case.
In a text sent by Robertson after his arrest, which prosecutors highlighted, he said he could “kill every agent they send for probably 2 weeks. Maybe longer.”
Cooper expressed particular concern about Robertson’s actions after his arrest, including dealing in guns and advocating for violence.