Tue. Nov 29th, 2022

An Ohio man who said that Donald J. Trump was responsible for his decision to storm the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, and steal a bottle of bourbon and a coat rack was sentenced on Friday to three years in prison, the authorities said.

In sentencing the man, Dustin Byron Thompson, 38, Judge Reggie Walton of U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia told Mr. Thompson, who apologized and said that he was ashamed of his actions, that he could not understand how someone with a college degree could “go down the rabbit hole” and believe so strongly in a lie, according to The Associated Press. Judge Walton had previously said that he found Mr. Thompson’s explanation that Mr. Trump was responsible for Mr. Thompson’s behavior “disingenuous.”

Mr. Thompson was convicted by a jury in April of a felony charge of obstructing an official proceeding and five misdemeanors, including theft of government property.

Mr. Thompson, an unemployed exterminator from Columbus, based his defense on the argument that he had been following orders from Mr. Trump last year when he broke into the building with a pro-Trump mob and stole the items after the former president’s speech at a rally that day.

A lawyer for Mr. Thompson, Andrew M. Stewart, did not immediately respond to an email late Friday.

In a letter to Judge Walton in September in support of her husband, Sarah Thompson said she met Mr. Thompson in 2004 while they were students at Ohio State University. She said that her husband had become a “casualty of online disinformation” and had been swept up in Mr. Trump’s claim that the presidential election had been stolen.

“I was naïve to the dangers of the rally, as was Dustin,” she said.

Prosecutors said that Mr. Thompson and a co-defendant, Robert Anthony Lyon, 28, entered a restricted area of the Capitol grounds at about 2 p.m. on Jan. 6, 2021. Wearing a bulletproof vest, Mr. Thompson entered the building and went to the Senate parliamentarian’s office, where he stole the bourbon, prosecutors said.

After Capitol Police officers had directed Mr. Thompson to leave the building, he returned with Mr. Lyon and stole a coat rack from the same office and later sent a photo of himself posing with the coat rack to Mr. Lyon, prosecutors said, adding that he had also sent a message to Mr. Lyon in which he called the coat rack a “trophy.”

Credit…U.S. Department of Justice

That evening, Mr. Thompson was stopped on the Capitol grounds by the police while waiting for an Uber, prosecutors said. Mr. Thompson fled, leaving the coat rack behind, while Mr. Lyon was arrested, prosecutors said. Mr. Thompson was arrested later that month in Ohio.

Mr. Lyon, of Reynoldsburg, Ohio, pleaded guilty in March to misdemeanor charges of theft of government property and disorderly and disruptive conduct in a restricted building or grounds, prosecutors said. He was sentenced in September to 40 days in jail followed by supervised release.

McKenna Oxenden contributed reporting.



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