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Man who punched Capitol police officer gets longest sentence yet tied to riot

Scott Fairlamb was sentenced to 41 months of prison and three years probation, setting a precedent for the approximately 200 rioters who have been charged with assaulting law enforcement. 

WASHINGTON (CN) — The first Capitol rioter to be sentenced for assaulting a police officer received 41 months in prison on Wednesday — the heftiest sentence a federal judge has given out to a Capitol rioter so far and a precedent-setting sentence for all future Jan. 6 defendants convicted of assault. 

Scott Kevin Fairlamb, a New Jersey gym owner and mixed martial artist who punched a police officer in the face during the insurrection, has already served 11 months in the Washington jail where he has been held since his arrest. The defense asked that Fairlamb receive a “time-served” sentence, which would allow him to be released from jail and return home. 

Prosecutors meanwhile asked for 44 months, referencing Fairlamb’s inciting remarks during and after the riot, and his past criminal conduct of punching people in the face. 

“I cannot, in good conscience, go below the guidelines,” U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth told Fairlamb. “It was such a serious offense under those circumstances.”

Fairlamb joined in the storming of a police line, screaming “What Patriots do? We fucking disarm them and then we storm the fucking Capitol!” He then entered the Capitol, came out, and asked a group of police officers if they needed help — offering them water — before shoving an officer then punching his face shield. The officer didn’t sustain any injuries.

Prosecutors called Fairlamb a “multidimensional defendant,” noting that he comes from a family of law enforcement officers and has spent his life helping and championing law enforcement, but said his actions on Jan. 6 were serious. 

“It is critical that this court's sentence convey to future rioters that there will be very very serious consequences for those who try to obstruct the law, especially through assault on law enforcement,” Justice Department attorney Leslie Goemaat said. 

Lamberth remarked that because of Fairlamb’s respect for law enforcement, his punch seemed out of character. 

"It’s out of character for his whole history and his philosophy for living his life," Lamberth remarked during the hearing. 

Two days after the riot, Fairlamb filmed and posted a video of himself saying, “They pulled the pin on the grenade, and the blackout is coming. What a time to be a patriot.” The next week when he was visited by FBI agents, Fairlamb told them that he would “go again.”

Today, however, as Fairlamb’s defense attorney Harley Breite assured Lamberth, Fairlamb’s views have since changed — thanks in part to the 11 months in jail Fairlamb has had to reflect, and during which time he was violently threatened by jail guards. 

“I’ve never seen such a blatant disregard for inmates’ rights as the D.C. jail,” Breite told Lamberth. At one point, when Fairlamb tried to comply with an interview request from the House select committee on the Jan. 6 riot, the jail refused to accommodate. 

Lamberth committed to get Fairlamb transferred up to a prison in New Jersey.

“This clearly demonstrates that he wants to be part of the solution,” Breite said regarding Fairlamb’s eagerness to cooperate with the Jan. 6 investigation. “The sum of any man’s life cannot be his worst moment. ... I feel strongly that Fairlamb is never going to be in a courtroom like this again.”

Prosecutors acknowledged Fairlamb’s remorse appears sincere, and gave him credit for taking early responsibility for his actions and being the first Capitol rioter to plead guilty to assault. 

“I want to say sorry for my completely irresponsible, reckless behavior that day,” Fairlamb told Lamberth. “That was not Scott Fairlamb. That’s not who I am. That’s not who I was raised to be.”

Lamberth told Fairlamb that he made the right decision to plead early. 

“Had you gone to trial ... there isn’t a jury that would’ve acquitted you,” Lamberth said. “You couldn’t have beat this if you went to trial.”

Lamberth mentioned that what stood out to him most was an individual yelling that Fairlamb punching the officer was “crazy” and “nuts” in the background of a video of Fairlamb’s punch. 

“The way you hit him in the face like that, you're fortunate he wasn't injured," Lamberth told Fairlamb. 

Prosecutors asked for Lamberth to slap a fine onto Fairlamb’s sentence, as Fairlamb has received more than $30,000 in online donations after he lost his business. 

“It is not appropriate to financially benefit from a crime like this,” said Assistant U.S. Attorney Leslie Goemaat.

Lamberth declined. 

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