WASHINGTON — A federal judge sentenced a Maryland man to three months behind bars Friday for his role in the Capitol riot – saying he hoped it sent a message to other participants that they wouldn’t be avoiding responsibility.
Robert Reeder, of Harford County, Maryland, appeared before U.S. District Judge Thomas F. Hogan on Friday morning for his second attempt at sentencing on one count of parading, demonstrating or picketing in a Capitol building. Reeder’s previous sentencing hearing in August was upended when the online group Sedition Hunters surfaced new video showing him grabbing and pulling a police officer onto the ground on January 6.
At the time, the Justice Department was asking for Reeder to spend two months behind bars – arguing he was “proud” of his participation in the riot. After the new videos were found, though, prosecutors increased that request to six months. Reeder's attorney, Robert Bonsib, described the contact with police in court Friday as a "reflexive, defensive action."
Before handing down his sentence Friday, Hogan told Reeder he “can’t condone” what he saw in the video and also that he was troubled by Reeder trying to portray himself as an “accidental tourist.”
“I find your statements to the FBI to be self-serving and disingenuous, frankly,” Hogan said.
But, Hogan also gave Reeder credit for his lack of a criminal history, his contrition – “I think it’s sincere at this point,” he said – and testimony from his older brother, David Reeder, that he has suffered greatly as a result of his arrest.
Reeder himself told the judge he has been unemployed for 10 months, and that his relationships with his son and family have been severely damaged.
“I’m radioactive,” he said. “No one wants to hire me. They just have to Google my name.”
Because the Department of Justice declined to pursue additional assault charges against Reeder, the maximum sentence he faced was six months in prison. Hogan decided Friday to halve that and ordered him to serve three months behind bars. While announcing his sentence, the judge said it’s become clear to him that many Capitol riot defendants taking misdemeanor pleas like Reeder are “not truly accepting responsibility.”
“I hope it does send a signal to the other participants in that riot… that they can expect to receive jail time,” Hogan said.
In addition to three months in jail, Reeder will have to pay $500 in restitution for damage done to the U.S. Capitol. Hogan allowed Reeder to self-report to authorities to begin serving his sentence, but warned him failing to do so could potentially earn him a felony escape charge with a maximum sentence of up to 5 years.
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