Reffitt was found guilty on March 8 of five criminal offenses, including obstructing Congress at its meeting to certify the 2020 election result, interfering with police and carrying a firearm during a a riot, and the threat of his teenage son, who reported him to the FBI.
The defense for Reffitt, a 49-year-old former oil rig manager, requested a less than guideline sentence of two years in prison. Attorney F. Clinton Broden said in a filing that his client committed no violence and had no criminal history, but prosecutors are asking for far more time for him than for defendants who pleaded guilty to assaulting the police.
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“It mocks the criminal justice system, the Sixth Amendment right to a trial, and the victims assaulted by [others] to argue that Mr. Reffitt should receive a longer (let alone three times) sentence than a defendant who has assaulted police officers on at least two occasions, spent three hours on Capitol grounds, and has a history of violence,” Broden wrote.
But Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jeffrey Nestler and Risa Berkower said Reffitt’s case was exceptional.
Reffitt “played a pivotal role” leading a vigilante mob that defied and swarmed police at a key choke point, a staircase leading to the lower west terrace, before the first window breach near doors to the Senate wing of the Capitol at 2:1 p.m., prosecutors said. After the riot, Reffitt warned his 16-year-old son and daughter that “if you turn me in, you’re a traitor, and traitors get shot,” his son said at trial.
Conventional sentencing rules are “inadequate in scope” to account for Reffitt’s range of obstruction, witness tampering and weapons offences, prosecutors wrote in a 58-page memo on the penalty.
“Reffitt sought not only to shut down Congress, but also to physically attack, remove and replace lawmakers who served in Congress,” prosecutors wrote.
They called his conduct “a quintessential example of an intent to both influence and retaliate against government conduct through intimidation or coercion” and said it reflected the legal definition of violence terrorist who is liable to more severe penalties.
A jury found that Reffitt traveled to DC from his home in Wylie, Texas, with an AR rifle and a .40 caliber semi-automatic handgun and repeatedly stated his intention to come armed a handgun and plastic handcuffs to get lawmakers out of the building. After returning from Washington, he threatened his children to make sure they wouldn’t report him to the authorities.
The request from the U.S. Attorney’s Office in DC, which oversees the prosecution of approximately 840 Capitol Headquarters defendants indicted by the federal government so far, does not bind U.S. District Judge Dabney L. Friedrich, who has gone below prosecutors’ recommendation in 22 of 24 convictions from Jan. 6 to date.
The longest sentence in a Jan. 6 case to date is 63 months, given to a Florida man who pleaded guilty to attacking police with a fire extinguisher and a wooden plank and a DC man who assaulted three officers and smashed a riot shield with a pole.
By comparison, Friedrich has so far only sentenced three defendants who have pleaded guilty to crimes, the longest at 27 months in prison, also for attacking the police.
Still, prosecutors may be hoping to send a clear signal to the roughly 330 defendants who are still awaiting felony trials and may still be considering accepting a plea deal or playing in front of a jury. About 70 people pleaded guilty and nine, including Reffitt, were convicted at trial.
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Reffitt left home at 15, moved in with his older sister and started working as a KFC dishwasher after enduring years of physical abuse at the hands of his father, Broden wrote. After becoming a father himself, Broden said, Reffitt was dedicated to his children and creating safe spaces for others. Reffitt, his lawyer said, was a self-made man who took his family overseas while working in places like Malaysia in charge of operations worth tens of millions of dollars, but was devastated financially and emotionally after a downturn in the oil and gas industry. . He lost his job in November 2019, just months before the pandemic hit the United States.
Reffitt’s daughters noticed that “his sanity declined” during this time, Broden wrote. Reffitt fell “down the rabbit hole of political news and online banter,” wrote one of his daughters, and he fell into the thrall of Donald Trump “constantly fueling polarizing racial thinking.”
“I could really see how my father[’]The ego and personality of his ego fell to his knees when President Trump spoke, you could tell he was listening to Trump’s words like he was really really talking to him,” one of Reffitt’s daughters said. .
Letters from nine friends and relatives provided to the court by Reffitt’s defense “describe a depressed man who believed he was unable to provide for his family (his life’s mission) and a man who felt left out and marginalized,” Broden wrote.
Reffitt started a security business and joined the Three Percenters in Texas. The right-wing anti-government group takes its name from the myth that only 3% of the colonists fought in the American Revolution against the British.
In a letter to the judge, Reffitt described a series of family traumas since 2020, including medical and mental health emergencies, and pleaded for clemency for the sake of his family.
“My regrets for what happened are insurmountable. Not a day goes by that I don’t regret how much it affected [my wife and children],” Refitt wrote. “Yes, what is happening to my family is completely my fault, I would like to fix it please. … I am just asking for a chance to prove myself again.