According to a report from the Associated Press, participants in the Jan 6th Capitol insurrection are finding out that their boasts on social media about taking part in the riot that sent lawmakers fleeing for their lives are influencing the amount of time they may spend in jail.
Case in point: convicted insurrectionist Russell Peterson of Pennsylvania was confronted by U.S. District Judge Amy Jackson with a Facebook post he wrote where he told his friends, "Overall I had fun lol."
That didn't sit well with the judge who told him, before sentencing him to 30 days in jail, "The 'lol' particularly stuck in my craw because, as I hope you've come to understand, nothing about January 6th was funny. No one locked in a room, cowering under a table for hours, was laughing."
Peterson is not the only one to have his social media comments blow up in his face months after the riot.
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"FBI agents have identified scores of rioters from public posts and records subpoenaed from social media platforms. Prosecutors use the posts to build cases. Judge now are citing defendants' words and images as factors weighing in favor of tougher sentences," AP's Michael Kunzelman wrote. "As of Friday, more than 50 people have been sentenced for federal crimes related to the insurrection. In at least 28 of those cases, prosecutors factored a defendant's social media posts into their requests for stricter sentences, according to an Associated Press review of court records."
According to the report, "Rioters' statements, in person or on social media, aren't the only consideration for prosecutors or judges. Justice Department sentencing memos say defendants also should be judged by whether they engaged in any violence or damaged property, whether they destroyed evidence, how long they spent inside the Capitol, where they went inside the building and whether they have shown sincere remorse."
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In the case of Lori Ann Vinson who "publicly expressed pride in her actions at the Capitol during television news interviews and on Facebook," Judge Reggie Walton admonished her, "I understand that sometimes emotions get in the way and people do and say stupid things, because it was ridiculous what was said. But does that justify me giving a prison sentence or a jail sentence? That's a hard question for me to ask," before sentencing her to five years of probation and ordering her "to pay a $5,000 fine and perform 120 hours of community service."
New Jersey gym owner Scott Fairlamb was filmed punching a police officer outside the Capitol, with AP reporting, "His Facebook and Instagram posts showed he was prepared to commit violence in Washington, D.C., and had no remorse for his actions, prosecutors said."
Facing Senior Judge Royce Lamberth, Fairlamb was told after accepting a plea deal, "You couldn't have beat this if you went to trial on the evidence that I saw."
Fairlamb was subsequently sentenced to 41 months in prison.
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