Federal prosecutors on Wednesday recommended a prison sentence of nearly four years for a New Jersey gym owner who is on track to be the first person sentenced for assaulting a law enforcement officer during the riot at the U.S. Capitol.
Scott Fairlamb's sentencing, scheduled for next Wednesday, could guide other judges in deciding the appropriate punishment for dozens of other rioters who engaged in violence at the Capitol that day.
Prosecutors said Fairlamb, one of one of the first rioters to breach the Capitol, incited and emboldened other rioters around him with his violent actions.
“Law enforcement officers were overwhelmed, outnumbered, and in some cases, in serious danger. The rule of law was not only disrespected; it was under attack that day,” prosecutors wrote in a court filing.
If U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth adopts the Justice Department's recommendation for a 44-month prison term, Fairlamb's sentence would be the longest for a rioter. An 8-month prison term is the longest sentence among the nearly two dozen rioters who have been sentenced so far. A man who posted threats connected to Jan. 6 but didn't storm the Capitol was sentenced to 14 months in prison.
Defense attorney Harley Breite said during an interview Wednesday that he intends to ask Lamberth to sentence Fairlamb to the time he already has served in jail, allowing for his immediate release. Fairlamb has been jailed since his Jan. 22 arrest at his home in Stockholm, New Jersey.
“Had this not occurred on federal property, my client would be facing a trespassing and simple assault (case) in any municipal court in this country,” Breite said. “Most importantly, my client has expressed sincere remorse for his actions of that day. And those actions are not indicative of who he really is."
Fairlamb, a 44-year-old former mixed martial arts fighter, owned Fairlamb Fit gym in Pompton Lakes, New Jersey. He is the brother of a Secret Service agent who was assigned to protect former first lady Michelle Obama, according to defense attorney Harley Breite.
Fairlamb picked up a police baton as he joined the mob that broke past a line of police officers and breached the Capitol, according to prosecutors. A video showed him holding the collapsible baton and shouting, “What (do) patriots do? We f——— disarm them and then we storm the f——— Capitol!”
After he left the building, Fairlamb shoved and punched a Metropolitan Police Department officer in the face, an attack captured on video by a bystander. The officer said he didn't suffer any physical injuries, according to prosecutors.
Fairlamb pleaded guilty to two counts, obstruction of an official proceeding and assaulting the police officer. The counts carry a maximum of more than 20 years in prison, but sentencing guidelines calculated by the court's probation department recommend a term of imprisonment ranging from 41 to 51 months. Lamberth isn't bound by any of the recommendations.
More than 100 law enforcement officers were injured during the deadly insurrection, according to prosecutors. At least nine people who were at the Capitol on Jan. 6 died during or after the rioting, including Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick, who collapsed after he was sprayed by rioters with a chemical irritant. Four other police officers have died by suicide.
Fairlamb’s social media accounts indicated that he subscribed to the QAnon conspiracy theory and promoted a bogus claim that former President Donald Trump would become the first president of “the new Republic” on March 4, prosecutors wrote. QAnon has centered on the baseless belief that Trump was fighting against a cabal of Satan-worshipping, child sex trafficking cannibals, including “deep state” enemies, prominent Democrats and Hollywood elites.
Michael Kunzelman, The Associated Press