The owners of “Free Folk Pastures” are no longer free.
Instead, Dale “D.J.” Shalvey and Tara Stottlemyer, who run a regenerative cattle and poultry farm 45 miles north of Charlotte, have become North Carolina’s first husband and wife sentenced to prison for their roles in the Jan. 6, 2021, riot at the U.S. Capitol.
On Thursday, U.S. District Judge Timothy Kelly of Washington ordered Shalvey and Stottlemyer to serve 41 and eight months, respectively. They will begin their sentences at a later date.
Kelly, who was appointed to the bench by former President Donald Trump, also ordered both to serve 24 months of supervised release. Stottlemyer will spend the first third of hers on home detention.
Assistant U.S. Attorney General Anthony Franks had recommended a 51-month sentence for Shalvey and 18 months for Stottlemyer.
Both pleaded guilty in October to riot-related felony charges: Stottlemyer, obstruction of an official proceeding; Shalvey, obstruction and assault on a police officer.
The couple, the parents of a 2-month-old daughter, moved to North Carolina after taking part in the attack on the Capitol by a mob of Trump supporters intent on overturning the Republican’s election loss to Joe Biden.
Shalvey was arrested in March 2021; Stottlemyer was charged six months later after the couple had relocated to Catawba County.
In the months since, they have quickly put down roots in Conover.
They leased land from Shalvey’s uncle, who lives in Mooresville, to start their farm.
They got married there six months after the riot.
They buried their newborn son, Josiah, there in January 2022 and gave birth to a daughter, Hope, in mid-March.
They joined a church. They made new friends. In a letter to Kelly seeking leniency for Shalvey, one acquaintance said the couple have quickly become community leaders in their adopted home.
‘Stop the steal’ rally
Now, Shalvey and Stottlemyer, both 38, are set to become the ninth and 10th North Carolinians imprisoned for Jan. 6 crimes, for terms ranging from nine days to 44 months. At least 28 N.C. residents have been federally charged.
Nationwide, more than 1,000 arrests have been made, leading to more than 650 convictions. The Capitol violence has been linked to at least five deaths, injuries to some 140 police officers, and more than $2.8 million in damage to the building.
Shalvey and Stottlemyer, then living in a small town outside of Pittsburgh, drove to Washington on Jan. 6 with a farmer friend from Upstate New York to attend Trump’s “Stop the Steal” rally, court documents show.
They then joined a throng of Trump supporters, fueled by the outgoing president’s baseless claims of massive election fraud, who marched to the Capitol to stop congressional certification of Biden’s win.
During the growing chaos, Shalvey was caught on camera throwing something that struck a police officer.
Shalvey and Stottlemyer — joined by co-defendant Katharine Morrison of Dansville, N.Y., who received the same sentence as Stottlemyer — entered the Capitol nine minutes after the first breach, Franks said. They roamed the building for more than an hour.
Eventually, the three were among the relatively few rioters who reached the floor of the U.S. Senate. There, they rifled through senators’ desks and photographed documents.
Shalvey also pocketed a letter — which he later destroyed — from U.S. Sen. Mitt Romney to then-Vice President Mike Pence in which the Utah Republican explained his reasoning for finding Trump guilty at his second impeachment trial.
Franks compared Shalvey’s behavior to one of the best-known convicted rioters, “QAnon Shaman” Jacob Chansley, who was sentenced in November 2021 to 41 months on an obstruction charge.
Except, according to Franks’ sentencing memo, Shalvey’s actions were “more heinous as they involve assaulting an officer and lying to the FBI regarding the assault and destroying evidence, which included Shalvey’s phone and a note written by Senator Romney.”
While Stottlemyer, garbed in a Trump flag and a teal-colored bicycle helmet, did not take part in the violence, she was alongside Shalvey throughout the riot and participated in the rummaging of the Senate desks, Franks said.
Multiple letters written to the judge by Shalvey’s family, ministers, former college professors and friends spoke to his character and potential; how he overcame a childhood derailed by a drug-addicted mother and an abusive father; how he plans to use the farm to mentor fatherless boys; how he is embarrassed and remorseful for his actions at the Capitol.
Lead defense attorney Cody Cofer of Fort Worth, citing his client’s “complete lack of prior contact with the criminal justice system” prior to Jan. 6, called for home detention, not imprisonment.
“Mr. Shalvey acknowledges the Court must consider a variety of factors and interests beyond the future of a defendant,” Cofer wrote.
“For the Shalveys, the care of (daughter) Hope is the foremost concern. Mr. Shalvey is also burdened by his worry for the animals he loves and losing the land on which his son is buried.
“And all this is in peril because of Mr. Shalvey’s decisions.”