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‘Sovereign citizen’ Jan. 6 rioter gets seven years for leading mob assault on officers



'Sovereign citizen' Jan. 6 rioter gets seven years for leading mob assault on officers

WASHINGTON — A Washington man who led an attack on officers on Jan. 6 and represented himself at trial using arguments a federal judge described as “bulls—” and “gobbledygook” was sentenced to seven years in federal prison on Wednesday.

Taylor James Johnatakis was convicted in November on felony counts of obstruction of an official proceeding, assaulting officers and civil disorder, as well as four misdemeanor charges. Judge Royce Lamberth, who was appointed to the bench by former President Ronald Reagan, said at the sentencing hearing on Wednesday that he was troubled by Johnatakis’ “lack of remorse” and he was concerned that, if given the chance, Johnatakis might engage in violence again.

Noting the letters of support that Johnatakis’ friends and family had sent to the court, Lamberth noted that Johnatakis was being held “accountable for what he did,” not the person he is. Unfortunately, Lamberth said, Johnatakis left his good attributes at home “when he went to the Capitol on Jan. 6.”

Much as he did during the trial, Johnatakis continued not to engage with the substance of the proceedings and instead advanced sovereign citizen arguments, indicating that he did not think he was subject to the federal justice system.

“Does the record reflect a repent of my sins?” Johnatakis asked the judge after his sentence was imposed on Wednesday.

Johnatakis indicated to the court that his family planned to move to Iowa after Lamberth asked if he preferred where he would like to serve his term. The federal Bureau of Prisons ultimately decides where Johnatakis will serve his sentence.

After Lamberth noted that he and Johnatakis had “an interesting relationship” over the course of his case, Johnatakis said, “I do honor what you do for this country.” Wearing a prison jumpsuit, he then blew a kiss to members of his family, waved goodbye, and gave a thumbs up before being led back to serve out his sentence.

Earlier this year, Lamberth said he was “shocked” that “meritless justifications of criminal activity have gone mainstream,” with Republican politicians defending the actions of Jan. 6 rioters.

“I have been dismayed to see distortions and outright falsehoods seep into the public consciousness,” Lamberth said. “The Court fears that such destructive, misguided rhetoric could presage further danger to our country.”

Federal prosecutors had sought nine years in federal prison for Johnatakis, saying he “came equipped to organize rioters by strapping a megaphone onto his back, and he led the charge up the Southwest stairs of the U.S. Capitol” and “coordinated a violent assault on a line of police officers defending the U.S. Capitol.”

Johnatakis participated in the assault himself, prosecutors said, with video showing that he “used a metal barricade to attack officers head on and grabbed one officer to prevent him from defending himself against other attacking rioters — contributing to that officer’s physical injury.”

Johnatakis had posted before the attack that he was traveling to Washington to “CHANGE the course of HISTORY #stopthesteal” and that “What the British did to DC will be nothing…”

After yelling into his megaphone that then-Vice President Mike Pence was a “traitor to this nation,” Johnatakis chased officers up the stairs and organized a push on law enforcement.

More than 1,350 people have been charged in connection with the attack on the U.S. Capitol, and more than 950 defendants have been convicted. Around 500 have been sentenced to periods of incarceration ranging from just a few days to 22 years in federal prison, for a Proud Boy leader convicted of seditious conspiracy.



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