A Donald Trump supporter who stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 went on a rant about voter fraud and conspiracy theories about the attack on Friday, shortly before he was sentenced to two weeks in prison.
John Lolos, who went into the Capitol through a broken window, was sentenced by Judge Amit P. Mehta, who said that no one should try to “mitigate what happened on Jan. 6” and called Lolos a “pawn” who was suffering the consequences of lies told by politicians who knew better.
In a rant preceding his sentencing that lasted more than 20 minutes, Lolos tried to downplay his behavior on Jan. 6 — but also brought up videos he saw about supposed voter fraud in Philadelphia, Chicago and Detroit, and said the FBI and Justice Department should have looked into the allegations. Against the advice of his attorney, Lolos continued, painting a bizarre conspiracy theory and saying that the “smallest police officer I’ve ever seen in my whole life” had encouraged him to trespass in the Capitol building.
“I see a window, it’s broken, people are going inside. Yeah, I went inside, your honor, but I didn’t break the window to rob the place,” Lolos said. He tried to claim that he went through the broken window to “talk to the police officers,” an explanation that Mehta didn’t believe.
“You thought the way to get to a designated protest area was through a broken window?” Mehta asked.
After Lolos’ extended rant, Assistant U.S. Attorney Anthony Franks said that Lolos had made the case for incarceration better than he could.
“I may have failed miserably in describing why a sentence of incarceration is appropriate here, but I think Mr. Lolos pretty much summed it up,” Franks said. “If he gets mad again, he’s not deterred ... He says that he’s taken responsibility, but he hasn’t ... If something happens again regarding alleged voter fraud, I would proffer that he’s going to do it again.”
Lolos asked the judge not to pour “salt in the wound” and said his business had already suffered because of his arrest. “I’ve been deterred enough,” Lolos said.
Mehta called Jan. 6 “a singular event” and said that everyone who entered the Capitol building contributed to the chaos.
“There is some mitigation here,” he said. “Mr. Lolos didn’t plan this episode, he didn’t purposely come to Washington, D.C., to storm the Capitol. The fact remains that he and others were called to Washington, D.C., by an elected official, told to walk to the Capitol by an elected official.”
“People like Mr. Lolos were told lies, falsehoods, told the election was stolen when it really wasn’t,” Mehta said. He added that impressional people like Lolos were the ones suffering the consequences, rather than those who “created the conditions” that lead to Jan. 6.
It was “disappointing” and “regrettable” that Lolos still thinks the election was stolen, Mehta said, but said it was understandable because it is difficult to convince people that they bought into a lie.
“I think you are a pawn,” the judge said. “You are a pawn in a game that’s played and directed by people who should know better.”
The FBI has made more than 650 arrests in connection with the Capitol attack, a figure that represents roughly one-fourth of the total number of potential defendants who engaged in chargeable criminal conduct on Jan. 6. The FBI is still seeking to identify more than 350 people who engaged in violence and still haven’t been arrested, including more than 250 members of the pro-Trump mob who assaulted law enforcement.