The Texans’ reactions to being accused in the Capitol melee have varied immensely. A former Houston police officer broke into tears last month at his sentencing, while a Cooke County Republican is talking about his experience during the riot as he runs for a seat in the Texas House.
Most cases against Texans defendants are pending, but outcomes for those who have gone before a judge offer hints at what’s to come for others in the contingent.
Texas is second only to Florida in the number of residents arrested in the Capitol riot on Jan. 6. Eight of those defendants are from the San Antonio area. Of the dozens of Texans charged, 11 have pleaded guilty. Prosecutors dropped the charges against Joseph Barnes, an Austin real estate agent, after he died in a motorcycle crash last summer.
The remaining 52 cases are pending before federal judges in Washington, D.C., as new arrests by the FBI continue to trickle in. A Tarrant County man is among 15 accused rioters arrested across the country in December.
Nationwide, 70 defendants have had their cases adjudicated, and among that group, six Texans have been sentenced for their involvement. Three were ordered to serve 60 days or less in custody. They include Tam Pham, a veteran Houston police officer sentenced to 45 days in jail. Two others were ordered to 12 months’ probation and 90 days home detention.
The Texans sentenced to jail time include Matthew Mazzocco, a former loan officer for Synergy One Lending in San Antonio who can be heard in a video posted on social media telling others not to take or destroy anything, and warning that they were probably going to get in trouble for what they were doing. Like the former Houston cop, Mazzocco was sentenced to 45 days in jail.
Jennifer Ryan, a Frisco real estate agent who took a private jet to D.C. for the rally, went viral for saying of her 60-day sentence: “If I can lose 30 pounds, it’ll be so worth it.”
Longest sentence so far
Troy Smocks, a 59-year-old Dallas man who threatened online to “hunt” down “RINOS, Dems, and Tech Execs” after the insurrection, was sentenced to 14 months in prison — by far the harshest sentence handed down so far to any of the Texans charged. The handful of other Texans received sentences ranging from no jail time up to 60 days.
Smocks pleaded guilty to making an interstate threat, a felony, in social media posts he sent from a Washington, D.C., hotel room.
“Over the next 24 hours, I would say let’s get our personal affairs in order. Prepare our weapons, and then go get ’em,” Smocks wrote the day after the riot on Parler, a social media site popular with right-wing extremists, according to charging documents.
Before his October sentencing, Smocks, who is Black, suggested he was being treated unfairly because of his race. U.S. District Judge Tanya S. Chutkan of Washington, who is also Black, called the suggestion “offensive,” the Washington Post reported.
“Every individual is capable of change and growth, but I’m not optimistic in your case,” she said.
Putting ‘terrible day’ in past
Pham, who served in uniform for Houston police for nearly two decades, is among more than 30 defendants sentenced to incarceration, and he may be among the most remorseful. The federal judge in his case noted his admitted parading inside the building was relatively minor but added that, “Without people like you, the collective force of the mob would not have been the same.”
Pham cried at his sentencing hearing last month in Washington, D.C., calling his participation the worst mistake of his life. He said he brought shame to his family members in Houston and his native Vietnam.
His lawyer Nicole DeBorde Hochglaube said this week her client was “glad to put this terrible day behind him.”
“He regrets his involvement and is pleased to have moved on,” she said.
Some defiant, some proud
Mark Middleton, a 52-year-old Cooke County Republican precinct chairman who with his wife, Jalise, is accused of grabbing and striking at officers across metal barricades outside the Capitol, is now running for a North Texas state House seat.
He said the events of Jan. 6 and his and his wife’s subsequent arrests — during what he describes as a “full-blown SWAT assault on our family farm” — are “absolutely” part of his campaign, and he has been traveling the state since June talking about their experiences to local Tea Party groups and other conservative organizations.
The FBI says body camera footage from Jan. 6 shows the Middletons clashing with police outside the Capitol. As officers shouted to “get back,” Mark Middleton cursed at them and continued pushing against the barricade, charging documents say.
But Middleton said the evidence in those charging documents was “cherry picked” and he and his wife were acting in self-defense after police began hitting them with batons. Middleton said he believes the federal government is trying to make an example of them.
“It’s to shut us up, and anyone like-minded, to shut them up,” he said. “It’s a full-blown Roger Stone, Gen. Flynn, the same stuff they did to Kyle Rittenhouse, the whole nine yards. It’s pure intimidation.”aside">
Variety of charges
The array of charges Texans face includes disorderly conduct, obstruction of an official proceeding and entering or remaining in a restricted building or grounds. Some face more serious charges, including assaulting, resisting or impeding officers.
The Capitol rioters from the Lone Star State are accused of wielding a skateboard, a hatchet, a crutch, zip tie restraints, a desk drawer, a Trump flag and a lit firecracker. Several were identified by investigators as having sprayed law enforcement officers with chemical agents. Many also memorialized their day in photos and videos, showing themselves trespassing and otherwise breaking the law, according to court documents.
One man reportedly downed Fireball shots in House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office. Another filmed the shooting of fellow rioter Ashli Babbitt, who was fatally gunned down by Capitol police while trying to jump through a window into the Speaker’s Lobby, according to Justice officials.
Mazzocco is the only San Antonio-area resident allegedly involved in the Jan. 6 riots to have pleaded guilty so far.
Others from the area include Chance Uptmore and his father, James “Sonny” Uptmore. The two were on a five-day trip to the East Coast from San Antonio to celebrate Chance’s 24th birthday. Chance Uptmore would later tell investigators that his dad told him not to go inside, but Chance was “caught up in the crowd” and thought it was a “once in a lifetime event.”
His father followed him in.
Federal authorities say Steven Cappuccio, a 52-year-old from Universal City, can be seen in body camera footage “violently” ripping a gas mask off of an officer who was pinned against doors by other rioters.
In court filings, Cappuccio’s attorney wrote that he has no history of violence or prior convictions. Before the pandemic, Cappuccio was a senior at Texas State University, his attorney wrote, describing him as “Mr. Mom to his four school-aged children, taking them to and from school as well as soccer practice, basketball practice, and band.”
Another father and son duo from Blanco — Jason Owens, 50, and his 22-year-old son Grady Owens — allegedly fought with police as they tried to get inside the Capitol. Grady Owens, a Florida music student, allegedly wielded a skateboard against officers.
His defense attorney later submitted 33 character letters describing Owens as a “gentle, kind and respectful” person.
The FBI in December arrested Thomas Paul Conover, a 53-year- old Tarrant County resident who allegedly posed for photos inside the Capitol with a Coors Light in hand. He was the most recent Texan arrested as federal authorities continue to investigate and make arrests in Jan. 6 cases, which now total more than 700 nationwide.
“I don’t always storm the Capitol of the United States of America, but when I do, I prefer Coors Light,” Conover said in a video posted to Facebook, according to charging documents.
In one picture included in the charging documents, Conover is holding a beer and giving a thumbs up in front of John Trumbull’s 1826 oil painting of the signing of the Declaration of Independence.
More than 80 percent of defendants were charged based on evidence collected from their own social media accounts or others’ accounts, according to the George Washington University Program on Extremism.
Nationwide, officials have made more than 725 arrests in what the Justice officials consider an ongoing investigation. The FBI says more than 350 defendants have yet to be identified, including more than 250 who were seen assaulting police officers and the suspects involved in planting pipe bombs at the Republican and Democratic committees’ headquarters — which some said were set as a means to divert law enforcement from the the insurrection — and those responsible for mounting a noose outside the Capitol building.
Source : https://www.expressnews.com/news/legislature/article/One-year-after-Jan-6-Capitol-riot-here-s-what-s-16752897.php5126