Jacob Chansley, the self-proclaimed “QAnon Shaman” who became widely known after photos circulated of him wearing face paint, a fur pelt and a horned hat inside the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, was sentenced Wednesday to 41 months in prison for his role in the riot.
U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth, a Reagan appointee, said during the sentencing hearing that even though he believes Chansley’s remorse is genuine, what he did “was horrific.”
“Even though I do think you’re genuine, what you did was terrible — you made yourself the epitome of the riot,” Judge Lamberth said.
Chansley, 34, of Phoenix, Arizona pleaded guilty in September to felony obstruction of Congress, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years behind bars.
The judge said he did not believe the maximum sentence was warranted but he could not go below the minimum sentencing guideline because of the “serious nature of the crime itself.” He also ordered Chansley to serve 36 months of supervised release and pay $2,000 in restitution.
Federal prosecutors had asked the judge for a 51-month sentence — the longest sentence recommended for a Capitol riot defendant.
Prosecutors say Chansley marched into the Senate chamber with a 6-foot spear and left a threatening note for then-Vice President Mike Pence that said, “It’s only a matter of time, justice is coming.”
Assistant U.S. Attorney Kimberly Paschall told the judge during the hearing: “If the defendant had been peaceful on that day, your honor, we would not be here.”
The court, she said, needs to send a “strong message” to Chansley and other defendants that there are consequences for their actions.
In a court filing, prosecutors argued that Chansley “used his bullhorn to stoke the passions of other rioters around him, to spew obscenities and threats in the Senate gallery, and to give the terrifying invocation upon the Senate dais to the gathered rioters about removing the traitors within the government.”
Prison officials have diagnosed Chansley with transient schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, depression and anxiety.
His attorney, Al Watkins, said during the hearing that “he would not have been in the Capitol on Jan. 6” if he was not mentally ill.
Mr. Watkins also said the Justice Department has an “optics-driven desire” to demand significant sentences for Capitol riot defendants.
Chansley told the judge that he is “truly repentant” for his actions.
“I was wrong for entering the Capitol,” he said. “I have no excuse, no excuse whatsoever.”
Last week, Judge Lamberth handed down a 41-month sentence to Scott Fairlamb, who punched a police officer during the Jan. 6 Capitol riot.
The judge brought up Fairlamb’s sentence during Chansley’s hearing.
“You didn’t go that far, you didn’t slug anybody,” he said. “But what you did here was actually obstruct the functioning of the whole government — it’s just such a serious crime.”
Fairlamb, whose brother was part of former first lady Michelle Obama’s Secret Service team and whose father was a New Jersey State trooper, pleaded guilty to felony charges including assault of an officer and obstruction of Congress.
Prosecutors had asked the judge to sentence Fairlamb to 44 months behind bars.
Chansley and Fairlamb have received the lengthiest sentences so far of the more than 650 people charged in the Capitol riot.
Mr. Watkins told The Washington Times on Wednesday that “Chansley is accepting his sentence in a noble fashion” and that he knows “accepting responsibility requires accepting consequences.”
A spokesperson for the U.S. Attorney’s Office declined to comment Wednesday on Chansley’s sentence.