The decade's most triggering comedy
Peter Schwartz was sentenced to 14 years in prison by U.S. District Judge Amit Mehta over his actions, which included pepper spraying and throwing a folding chair at a group of officers at the Capitol. The sentence is the longest so far for any of the January 6-related convictions.
Prosecutors had asked that Schwartz, a welder with previous convictions for violence and threats of violence, be locked up for 24 years, a sentence Schwartz’s lawyers vigorously opposed. Defense lawyer Dennis Boyle said that a 24-year sentence “would give credence to all those who consider this a political prosecution.”
Schwartz was arrested while working as a welder in Pennsylvania, but has said that Kentucky is his home.
Mehta decided to give him 14 years, saying that his 38 prior convictions did play a role in the decision. He said that Schwartz was a “soldier against democracy,” claiming that he pushed forward “the kind of mayhem, chaos that had never been seen in the country’s history.”
“You are not a political prisoner,” said Mehta, an Indian-born judge who was appointed to the United States District Court for the District of Columbia in 2014 by Barack Obama. “You’re not somebody who is standing up against injustice or fighting against an autocratic regime.”
In a court filing, Schwartz’s lawyer’s referred to Donald Trump as a “grifter” and said that Schwartz no longer believed that the 2020 election was stolen.
“There remain many grifters out there who remain free to continue propagating the ‘great lie’ that Trump won the election, Donald Trump being the most prominent. Mr. Schwartz is not one of these individuals; he knows he was wrong,” the lawyers said.
Schwartz told Mehta that he was sorry about the damage that had been caused on January 6, but the judge said he didn’t believe him. “You took it upon yourself to try and injure multiple police officers that day,” the judge said.
The welder threw a chair that prosecutors said, “directly contributed to the fall of the police line that enabled rioters to flood forward and take over the entire terrace.” Additionally, he sprayed pepper spray at police, using a “super soaker” canister. Prosecutors said that no officers were hit with the spray.
“While the stream of liquid did not directly hit any officer, its effect was to heighten the danger to the officers in that tunnel,” prosecutor Jocelyn Bond said.
Schwartz’s wife was also sentenced to two years in prison over her actions on January 6 and has reportedly filed for divorce. In a previous interview, Schwartz referred to his trial as “a sham, in the face of irrefutable video evidence.”