WASHINGTON (CN) — A federal judge on Friday sentenced a Kentucky couple who took part in the Jan. 6 Capitol riot to five years of probation with a fine of $5,000 each, the longest probationary sentence and biggest fine given out to Capitol rioters yet.
It’s also the maximum amount allowed for unlawful picketing charges that the couple pleaded guilty to in July.
“I know that’s a lot, but I want the sentence to hurt,” U.S. District Judge Reggie B. Walton said at Lori Ann Vinson and Thomas Roy Vinson’s sentencing hearing. “People have to understand that if you do something like this, it’s going to hurt.”
Though the government recommended a one-month prison sentence for Lori Vinson — and three months of home confinement for her husband — Walton acquiesced to a tearful plea from the defendant, who said that she didn’t know what the disabled adults she cares for would do without her. But, Walton noted that it was hard for him to not give Vinson time behind bars.
“If you are going to engage in these types of behaviors that undermine and subvert our governmental process, you’re going to pay for it,” the George W. Bush-appointed judge said. “Democracies die when citizens rise up against their governments and engage in the type of events that happened on Jan. 6.”
The Vinsons, who have three children and nine grandchildren, wandered around the U.S. Capitol for about 40 minutes on Jan. 6, and later told FBI agents that they had met no resistance from law enforcement officers and weren’t violent or destructive — though Thomas Vinson had filmed a violent scene at the Capitol, something Walton said was troubling.
“She painted a very inaccurate picture of what happened on Jan. 6, 2021,” Justice Department attorney Mary Dohrmann said of Lori Vinson’s interview with FBI agents. “That’s not cooperation.”
After being fired from her job as a nurse because of her participation in the riot, Lori Vinson told both Fox17 News in Nashville, Tennessee, and 14News in Evansville, Indiana, that she had no regrets from her participation in the riot.
“People have asked, are you sorry that you done that? Absolutely I am not, I am not sorry for that, I would do it again tomorrow,” Vinson told 14News in an interview. “I felt like I’ve done nothing wrong and I wouldn’t change it.”
But her defense attorney Chastity Beyl told Walton that her attitude has changed drastically since her January interviews, a time when Vinson was embarrassed and ashamed about her job loss.
“The devastation and embarrassment of losing my job led me to say things that were never truly in my heart,” Lori Vinson told Walton. “Those things were distasteful and disrespectful to everyone that heard them. They will have a lasting effect on my reputation for the rest of my life.”
Walton called the Vinsons “gullible” for falling for election conspiracy theories, and asked them what made them think they won’t fall for them again, as lies about the 2020 election are still being spread.
“With no proof, you bought into them, hook, line and sinker!” the judge yelled. “What if the Democrats do this next time around if they lose? We are tearing our country apart! We are so divided as a country that we are killing ourselves!”
Walton noted that the government hasn’t been seeking fines against Jan. 6 defendants beyond the $500 restitution that all of the defendants — including the Vinsons — have to pay. The only other Capitol rioter to receive an additional fine was Danielle Doyle, who must pay $3,000.
“There are a lot of needs going unmet in this country,” Walton said. “And now taxpayer money is being paid out for something that shouldn’t have to be paid out.”
Later on Friday, the chief judge of the federal court in Washington ordered Cody Mattice to be detained until trial — days after she issued a stay on a New York judge’s order releasing the Jan. 6 defendant who assaulted police with pepper spray.
Monday’s order came after an emergency request from the Justice Department.
Mattice, along with his friend, James Mault, face multiple felonies after they were caught on video tearing down barricades and using pepper spray on police at the entrance to the Capitol tunnel — though Mattice claimed that he was using the pepper spray on other rioters to protect the police.
“Mattice had every intention of coming to the Capitol with the plan to ‘fuck shit up,’” Chief U.S. District Judge Beryl Howell said, referencing videos where Mattice says that he and his friends were going to “fuck shit up.”
“The evidence is overwhelming," said Howell, a Barack Obama appointee.
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