WASHINGTON — A federal judge sentenced two Ohio men to 45 days behind bars Wednesday for their role in the Capitol riot – admonishing them they had attempted to undermine one of the country’s “bedrock acts.”
Derek Jancart and Erik Rau appeared before U.S. District Judge James Boasberg to be sentenced on one count each of disorderly conduct in a restricted building. Both men pleaded guilty to the misdemeanor count in July after acknowledging they had been among hundreds of rioters who entered the U.S. Capitol Building on January 6.
While neither man was accused of assaulting police, Assistant U.S. Attorney Leslie Goemaat told Boasberg that Jancart had “endorsed and celebrated” the violence – noting that he posted a video on Facebook showing Rau yelling “we have you surrounded” at beleaguered Capitol Police officers. Other rioters can be heard nearby yelling “hang the traitors!”
Jancart was arrested in late February. Rau turned himself in to police following Jancart’s arrest.
The Justice Department asked Boasberg to sentence both men to 4 months in prison. Rau was still on probation on January 6 from a 2019 domestic violence conviction and Jancart, they pointed out, had repeatedly tried to downplay his role in the riot while also posting online that the point of January 6 was to “show politicians we can get this far any time we want.”
In the first hearing Wednesday, Jancart’s attorney, Eduardo Balarezo, argued a 24-month probationary sentence was appropriate for his client – pointing to the three years of probation received by another misdemeanor defendant, Anna Morgan-Lloyd, of Indiana. Balarezo also compared Jancart uploading the video of other violent rioters to Facebook to the woman who recorded the police killing of George Floyd – a comparison Boasberg called “a bridge too far.”
Jancart spoke for himself as well, saying in hindsight he wished he had shown better behavior.
"While I was in the building I was yelling at people who were destroying things saying, hey, we paid for those things, you shouldn't destroy those things,” he said. “Because I have great memories of the history of this country. I love this country."
Before announcing his sentence, Boasberg said he respected Jancart’s service in the U.S. Air Force, particularly his deployment in Afghanistan, but admonished him that what happened on January 6 was a very serious offense.
"Let me start by saying that all of the people charged with January 6 offenses are serious. All of these crimes are serious,” Boasberg said. “You attempted, with others, to undermine one of our country's bedrock acts, which is the peaceful transfer of power."
Boasberg also said that, even though neither Jancart nor Rau were charged with violence, he was concerned by the fact they brought gas masks to the rally and that they had returned to the Capitol after hearing about the riot.
“You went back to your hotel,” Boasberg said. “You only came back to the Capitol once you’ve heard it had been breached. I believe that is significant… you yourself bragged that you were one of the first 100 into the building.”
Rau’s attorney, Michelle Peterson, took a different tactic in arguing against jail time. She told Boasberg that any period of incarceration was likely to result in Rau losing his job at a steel mill and would “essentially destroy their family situation.”
“There is no excuse for my actions on January 6,” Rau told the judge. “I absolutely should have had my wife and my kids in mind. It was a day that I would love to forget. It has impacted by family greatly so far, and I can only imagine the impacts it could have moving forward.”
Boasberg said he appreciated Rau had turned himself in and had cooperated with investigators, and also that he believed Rau’s remorse was genuine.
“This is not an act,” Boasberg said. “You’re not manufacturing tears. I know that.”
Nevertheless, given his actions on January 6 and his prior criminal history, Boasberg said he couldn’t give Rau any less time than his friend. He sentenced him to 45 days in prison as well.
Both men will have until November 29 to report to federal authorities. Boasberg said he would recommend they be held in facilities near their homes in Ohio, if possible. He also told Rau he wanted him to bring the lessons he learned back to his family.
“Good luck to you, Mr. Rau,” Boasberg said. “I expect you to be a highly productive citizen upon your release.”
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