Nine years in prison or house arrest? Attorneys argue over last Valley man being sentenced for Jan. 6 Capitol riot
Government prosecutors and the attorney representing an East Liverpool man convicted for his role in the January 6 Capitol riot are at opposite ends of the spectrum when it comes to whether Kenneth Thomas should go to prison for his crimes.
A memorandum filed in U.S. District Court in Washington by defense attorney John Pierce, suggests that his client be placed on home arrest for one year as punishment when he is sentenced Wednesday on convictions of civil disorder, four counts of assaulting, resisting, or impeding an officer, entering, or remaining in a restricted building and grounds, and disorderly or disruptive conduct in a restricted building or grounds.
The government recommends that Judge Dabney Friedrich impose a prison sentence of nine years, followed by 36 months of supervised release, along with restitution of $2,000, a fine of $77,607, and mandatory assessments totaling $525. Thomas’s attorney recommends no fines be levied.
Investigators say Thomas led assaults on five officers during an incursion at the Capitol, while Congress was certifying Joseph Biden as the winner of the 2020 Presidential Election.
Saying in his memorandum that Thomas “is brutally aware of the seriousness of his conduct on January 6”, attorney Pierce calls his client’s conduct “problematic”, noting that none of the officers “contacted” by Thomas reported any physical pain or injuries.
However, prosecutors say officers suffered, among other things, extreme mental anguish because of Thomas’s and his fellow rioters’ assault on the Capitol Building.
“Thomas’s offenses, the need for general deterrence–to ensure that another January 6 never happens again–the rule of law, the defendant’s total remorselessness, and, most importantly, the heroic work done by the officers Thomas victimized on January 6, 2021,” the U.S. Attorney states.
Some of those officers will provide a victim impact statement at Thomas’s sentencing, according to prosecutors.
Asking the court to avoid what it characterizes as “disparate” sentences, the defense memo states, “There is an extreme danger in federal sentencing, whereby January 6 protestors are being sentenced two to one hundred times more harshly than others convicted of similar charges in similar contexts.”
The defense memo goes on to enumerate several past cases that attorney Pierce claims are “analogous” to his client’s case, including a more aggressive 2023 incident where a man forced his way into a Social Security office. In that case, Pierce says the defendant was sentenced to a “few days of time served”.
“The Government’s sentencing memo is filled with exaggerations which propose that January 6 was the most extreme civil disorder in history,” according to Pierce’s memo. “In fact, measured by injuries, casualties, total property damage, or delays in commerce, the January 6 event doesn’t even qualify in the top 20 such civil disorders of the past 40 years.”
Government attorneys counter the defense argument equating Thomas’s crimes with the conduct of protestors in Portland, Oregon during the summer of 2020, saying it ignores other sentences imposed for the January 6, 2021, riots.
The prosecution recalled a statement made by Judge Christopher Cooper in another January 6 case, writing: “You had plenty of ways to make your voice heard. . .. But in this country, you can’t make your voice heard by helping a mob storm the Capitol by overrunning police . . . That’s mob rule, all right, which is exactly the opposite of what the Founding Fathers envisioned when they wrote that Constitution that you say you care so much about.”
Of the nine people from the Valley convicted in connection with the Capitol breach, Thomas is the only one still awaiting sentencing.
Michael Scott Lockwood, 32, of Southington, was sentenced earlier this month to 12 months and one day in prison and 36 months of supervised release after having pled guilty to a felony offense of assaulting, resisting, or impeding officers on July 24.
Rachel Powell, of Mercer County, often referred to as 'pink hat lady' or 'bullhorn lady' has been sentenced to 57 months in prison on nine charges.
Two people from New Castle, Phillip Vogel II and Debra Maimone were convicted of aiding and abetting the theft of U.S. property.
Vogel II was sentenced to 30 days in jail followed by one year of supervised release. Maimone was sentenced to two years’ probation. Each was ordered to make $1,806 restitution.
Brian and Julia Sizer of Ellwood City were both placed on probation for a year for entering the Capitol during the disturbance.
Stephen Ayers of Champion, who made national headlines when he testified before the House select committee hearing into the January 6th riot at the U.S. Capitol, was sentenced Thursday to two years probation after pleading guilty to entering the temporary residence of the president and disorderly conduct in the Capitol.
Ayer’s companion that day at the Capitol, Matthew Perna of Sharpsville, pleaded guilty to charges of witness tampering, disorderly conduct, and two counts of entering a restricted building or grounds. Perna took his own life before he could be sentenced.
Since Jan. 6, 2021, nearly 1,100 people have been arrested in nearly all 50 states for crimes related to the breach of the U.S. Capitol.