Romance novel model gets prison for Jan. 6 attack on police
(AP) - A Michigan pipelayer who modeled for covers of romance novels was sentenced on Thursday to three years in prison for assaulting police at the U.S. Capitol during a mob’s attack.
Logan Barnhart joined one of the most brutal clashes between rioters and police on Jan. 6, 2021. He grabbed an officer by his neck and torso and dragged him into the crowd of rioters on the Capitol’s Lower West Terrace. Minutes later, he returned to a police line and swung a flagpole at officers.
Barnhart, 42, of Holt, Michigan, said he didn’t recognize himself on a video, shown in court, that captured him assaulting the officer.
“The way I was acting seems so foreign to me,” he told U.S. District Judge Rudolph Contreras.
Contreras also sentenced Barnhart to three years of supervised release after his prison term and ordered him to pay a $3,688 fine and $2,000 in restitution. Contreras said anybody who “directly and brazenly” attacks police is inherently dangerous to the public.
“He ran to the fight,” the judge said.
Earlier on Thursday, a former Capitol police officer avoided a prison sentence for trying to help a Virginia fisherman avoid criminal charges for storming the building his law enforcement colleagues defended on Jan. 6. U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson sentenced Michael Angelo Riley to two years of probation and four months of home detention.
Riley, a 25-year police veteran, was on duty when a mob attacked the Capitol, injuring more than 100 officers. Riley’s voice cracked as he lamented how his “awful judgment” cost him his career, tarnished his reputation, ended friendships in the department and traumatized his family.
“The amount of regret and remorse I have over this situation is unimaginable,” Riley told the judge.
In Barnhart’s case, federal prosecutors had recommended a prison term of five years and three months. Barnhart has been on home detention while awaiting his sentencing. The judge ordered him to remain on home detention until he reports to prison at a date to be determined.
Barnhart has worked as a pipelayer and heavy machine operator for construction companies. NBC News reported that Barnhart has modeled for covers of romance novels, including “Stepbrother UnSEALed: A Bad Boy Military Romance.” Internet sleuths using facial recognition technology found photographs of Barnhart from his modeling career, NBC reported.
Defense attorney Michelle Peterson said Barnhart drove alone to Washington, D.C., to attend the “Stop the Steal” rally on Jan. 6 because he wanted to support then-President Donald Trump and believed the baseless claims that Democrats stole the election from the Republican incumbent.
“Now two years away from the chaos of that day, he is deeply remorseful and cannot understand how he acted so foolishly,” Peterson wrote.
Barnhart was charged with several other riot defendants in the same indictment.
Barnhart and co-defendants Jack Whitton and Jeffrey Sabol dragged a Metropolitan Police Department officer away from a police line, down stairs and into the crowd, where co-defendants Peter Stager and Mason Joel Courson beat the officer with a flagpole and a baton, according to prosecutors.
Barnhart was arrested in August 2021 and pleaded guilty in September 2022 to assaulting the officer with a dangerous weapon.
“He threw that officer to the wolves,” prosecutor Benet Kearney said.
Barnhart wrote an apology letter addressed to the officer. He said he was ashamed of his behavior on Jan. 6.
“I hope one day we can all put aside our petty differences that seem to be tearing our beautiful country apart,” Barnhart wrote.
In the case against Riley, the former Capitol police officer, prosecutors recommended a prison sentence of two years and three months.
The judge said Riley’s actions were “shocking conduct for any member of law enforcement.”
“You knew exactly how bad January 6th was,” she added. Jackson also ordered him to pay a $10,000 fine and perform 150 hours of community service.
On Jan. 6, 2021, Riley investigated a report of an explosive device at Republican National Committee headquarters and helped an injured officer. The following day, he posted a Facebook message calling for federal charges against anybody who assaulted police, damaged property or breached the Capitol.
“If we don’t send a message it will surely happen again,” he wrote.
Less than two hours later, Riley read a Facebook post by Jacob Hiles, a fisherman he knew from YouTube videos. Hiles wrote about his own participation in the riot and posted a video of rioters clashing with police.
Riley, 51, of Maryland, privately messaged Hiles and identified himself as a Capitol police officer who agreed with his “political stance.”
“Take down the part about being in the building they are currently investigating and everyone who was in the building is going to be charged. Just looking out!” Riley wrote.
They continued to exchange friendly messages until Hiles told Riley that the FBI was “very curious” that they had been communicating.
“They took my phone and downloaded everything,” Hiles wrote.
Riley immediately deleted all of their private messages, according to prosecutors.
Riley was charged with two counts of obstruction of justice. In October 2022, a jury convicted him of one count but deadlocked on the second.
Riley described his actions as “stupid and reckless” but said he didn’t think he was breaking the law.
“It certainly doesn’t excuse my lapse in judgment,” he said.
Hiles pleaded guilty in September 2021 to a misdemeanor count of parading, demonstrating or picketing in a Capitol building. Jackson sentenced him in December 2021 to two years of probation and ordered him to complete 60 hours of community service.
More than 1,000 people have been charged with federal crimes related to the Jan. 6 riot. Over 600 of them have pleaded guilty or been convicted after trials decided by a jury or judge. Over 450 of them have been sentenced, with over half getting terms of imprisonment ranging from seven days to 10 years.
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