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Prison ordered for Capitol rioter caught on film shoving police

Remorse came too late for Robert Reeder, who told a federal judge Friday that his participation in the failed insurrection ruined his life, costing him his job, his friends and his church. 

WASHINGTON (CN) — A Jan. 6 defendant whose sentencing was delayed by the discovery of video that showed him in an altercation with a police officer failed to avoid prison time at a marathon hearing Friday where he delivered a tearful apology. 

"It's been a really rough ride for me,” Robert Reeder said in court, noting that he’s lost his job, his friends and his church. “And I'd like to first sincerely apologize to the court and to everyone for my shameful and inexcusable actions that day. … I'm embarrassed, I'm ashamed."

Reeder also tearfully told Hogan that no one will hire him, and that this will have a large effect on his 14-year-old son, who shares the same name as him. 

"I'm poisoned, I’m radioactive,” Reeder said. “Financially, I’m ruined.”

A 55-year-old resident of Maryland, Reeder had initially claimed to have stumbled into the Capitol building as an accidental tourist. He pleaded guilty and was set to be sentenced in August, only to see that hearing waylaid at the eleventh hour by a group called Sedition Hunters that found footage of Reeder from the riot attacking police.

Prosecutors nevertheless decided not to add to Reeder's charges with the new evidence, instead asking for the maximum six-month sentence for the plea deal that Reeder originally accepted — unlawful picketing in a Capitol building. 

A criminal complaint against Robert Reeder includes this image of the Maryland man from video taken with his cellphone on Jan. 6 as he stormed the U.S. Capitol in a bid to overthrow the election of President Joe Biden. In the lengthy video, Reeder describes his experience in the Capitol. "We had to do ... ah ... battle with the police inside," he said.

U.S. District Judge Thomas F. Hogan settled on three months instead Friday, highlighting Reeder’s lack of criminal history and saying he had already suffered so much.

While the judge said Reeder’s remorse seems sincere, he concluded that the defendant's interviews with FBI agents did him no credit. 

“I find your statements to the FBI to be self-serving and disingenuous, frankly,” Hogan said.

In initial interviews, Reeder repeatedly blamed the government and law enforcement for the riot, and prosecutors said he only showed remorse after experiencing backlash from his actions.

“Your honor, the defendant has repeatedly lied to law enforcement and been less than candid," a Justice Department attorney said to Hogan, showing a slideshow full of evidence that Reeder was neither the Democrat nor accidental tourist that he claimed to be. 

“It’s become evident to me in the riot cases, many of the defendants who are pleading guilty are not truly accepting responsibility,” Hogan said. “They are trying to get out of this as quickly and inexpensively as possible, saying whatever they have to say in a guilty plea to get out of it.”

Before the video of the altercation surfaced, which Reeder’s attorney Robert Bonsib argues is a reflexive, defense action, prosecutors aimed for a two-month sentence. 

Hogan didn’t tack any probation time onto the 90 days behind bars. 

“I hope it does send a signal to the other participants in that riot… that they can expect to receive jail time,” Hogan said.

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