A former mixed martial arts fighter who pleaded guilty to assaulting a police officer during the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol was sentenced Wednesday to 41 months in prison. Federal prosecutors had recommended a sentence of 44 months.
Scott Fairlamb, 44, of New Jersey, is the first person sentenced for assaulting a law enforcement officer during the Capitol riot, and his sentence is the longest a rioter has received. Judge Royce Lamberth's sentencing decision is considered a “canary in the coal mine” indicator of what punishment dozens of other rioters could receive for acts of violence.
The offense cut at the heart of American democracy, Lamberth said, expressing outrage over what Fairlamb was caught on video doing. “It’s such a serious crime that I can’t give a below-guideline sentence,” he said.
Fairlamb teared up in court on Wednesday as he said his father was a veteran who served the United States proudly. He apologized for disgracing his family’s name and called his behavior “irresponsible” and “reckless.” He said he “takes responsibility” for what he did. He referenced health problems including cancer and a cardiac issue.
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A prosecutor argued that the federal sentencing guidelines were important to follow, ahead of similar cases in the future. Fairlamb solicited donations and already has collected $30,000, the prosecutor said, asking the judge to impose a fine and saying it’s “not right” for the defendant to financially benefit from Jan 6.
Fairlamb’s defense attorney argued for a “time served” sentence. He’s been jailed since his Jan. 22 arrest at his home in Stockholm, New Jersey. The attorney said it was “rare” to see such a “commendable” person “take such a wrong step.” The lawyer also argued that pretrial detention time in D.C.’s jail has been harsh and should count toward leniency.
In addition to the prison term, Lamberth ordered Fairlamb to pay $2,000 in restitution and be under supervised release for three years.
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 was caught on video following a line of police officers.
“You guys have no idea what the f--- you’re doing,” he can be seen screaming into an officer’s face, surrounded by people waving flags in support of President Donald Trump.
Fairlamb is seen pushing a Metropolitan Police Department officer, pointing a finger in his face and then punching him. The officer said he didn't suffer any physical injuries, according to prosecutors.
Prosecutors said Fairlamb, who owned Fairlamb Fit gym in Pompton Lakes, New Jersey, 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.
An eight-month prison term was previously the longest sentence among the nearly two dozen rioters who have been sentenced. 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 last month that he intended to ask the judge to sentence Fairlamb to the time he already has served in jail, allowing for his immediate release.
“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 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 was not bound by any of the recommendations.
Fairlamb is the brother of a Secret Service agent who was assigned to protect former first lady Michelle Obama, according to Fairlamb’s defense attorney.
Fairlamb’s social media accounts indicated that he subscribed to the QAnon conspiracy theories and promoted a bogus claim that 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.
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.