She thinks rioting in DC on Jan. 6 was ‘funny.’ That lack of remorse might cost her | Opinion

Kimberly Dragoo can’t seem to get out of her own way.

Last year, the former candidate for school board in St. Joseph and her husband Steven Dragoo admitted guilt related to their actions at the U.S. Capitol insurrection on Jan. 6, 2021.

Kimberly’s attempt to downplay her behavior that day could send her to jail for one week longer than her husband, according to a sentencing memorandum filed this month in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.

Federal prosecutors want Kimberly to serve 21 days total behind bars and recommend 14 days for Steven. Sentencing for the couple is scheduled this week before U.S. District Judge Beryl A. Howell.

Why the discrepancy in potential jail time? Both pleaded guilty to the same charge — one misdemeanor count of parading, demonstrating or picketing in a Capitol building.

Since admitting guilt last August, Steven, 66, has kept a low profile while Kimberly has not, according to federal officials. Her lack of contrition could cost her.

“Kimberly Dragoo deserves a more serious sentence because she continues to reject responsibility for her actions, going so far as to claim that she is ‘innocent until proven guilty’ after pleading guilty to this offense,” U.S. Attorney Matthew Graves wrote in the memo.

This week, I spoke with Kimberly, 55, over the phone. She refused to answer any questions for this column.

After the Dragoos entered the U.S. Capitol, Steven took a picture of Kimberly posing just outside a broken window, according to Graves’ memo.

Despite a guilty plea and photo images showing a smiling Kimberly posing inside the building, she still denies wrongdoing, Graves wrote.

Under a plea agreement, the couple must pay $500 in restitution to the Architect of the U.S. Capitol, serve 36 months of supervised probation and complete 60 hours of community service.

“Since pleading guilty on August 11, 2023, Kimberly continues to claim she did nothing wrong, that January 6 was carried out by just a ‘handful of bad actors,’ and is a victim of slander and fake news reporting,” he wrote.

Unsuccessful bid for St. Joseph school board

Kimberly ran for a seat on the St. Joseph School District Board of Education and lost. Voters in that town about 55 miles northwest of Kansas City soundly rejected her bid for public office.

Of 11,721 votes cast in the municipal election April 2, only 7% were in her favor, The St. Joseph News-Press reported.

I called Kimberly because I wanted to give her an opportunity to show remorse for entering the Capitol twice that day. She hasn’t, according to Graves, the U.S. attorney.

“Kimberly admitted she entered the U.S. Capitol through a broken window next to an open door near the U.S. Capitol, where Steven photographed her climbing through,” Graves wrote. “Kimberly thought it was ‘funny’ and stated that she was curious about the broken window.”

An attack that injured hundreds of law enforcement officials is no laughing matter. Federal authorities estimated rioters caused about $2.9 million in damages to the Capitol.

As a nation, there is no price tag high enough to place on the trauma associated with Jan. 6.

Kimberly and Steven Dragoo wouldn’t be the first Jan. 6 rioters to rightfully land behind bars. How else to deter another attack on the rule of law?

More than 150 people have been convicted of the same low-level parading charge the couple face, according to federal officials. Most have received probation, community service and/or home confinement, the feds say. Others were given minimal jail time.

Jail, restitution for Capitol riot convictions

Angelo Pacheco, 24, of Kansas City is among them. He spent 18 seconds inside the Capitol on Jan 6. After a guilty plea, Pacheco was sentenced in federal court to 24 months’ probation with 30 days of house arrest and must pay $500 in restitution.

Another offender, Mahailya Pryer of Springfield, pleaded guilty in federal court in May 2022 to one misdemeanor count related to the breach of the Capitol.

In September of that year, she was sentenced to 45 days in jail and given 36 months’ probation, according to The Star. She too was ordered to pay $500 in restitution, perform 60 hours of community service, participate in an inpatient program for substance abuse and tested for drugs.

Because of her drug use, Pryer’s probation was revoked earlier this year, The Star reported. She was sent to jail for 30 consecutive days.

Because of a 2023 federal appeals court ruling involving another Capitol riot case, any potential jail time for the Dragoos must be spread out over several nights or weekends, according to federal authorities.

In United States v. Little, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. ruled Jan. 6 defendants convicted of a single misdemeanor cannot be sentenced to both imprisonment and probation, according to court records filed in this case.

As a condition of their probation, offenders can, however, be confined to jail on an intermittent basis, a legal reprieve the Dragoos must take seriously. Up to six months in jail is a possibility but highly unlikely.

I should point out, neither Kimberly nor Steven Dragoo has a prior criminal record, according to the memo. That could factor in the judge’s decision.

But Kimberly’s stubborn refusal to acknowledge this unprecedented attack on American democracy could lead to significantly more jail time than it should.

And I can’t think of anything funny about that.