DOJ seeks record sentence exceeding 17 years for ex-NYPD officer in January 6th case

One Jan. 6th rioter was sentenced to 46 months in prison on Friday. Meanwhile, another Jan. 6th rioter who’s scheduled to be sentenced the following Friday is reportedly facing a sentence of up to 210 months.

Both defendants, Pennsylvania man Howard C. Richardson, 72, and former New York Police Department officer Thomas Webster, 56, have been convicted of crimes involving them attacking Capitol Police officers with flagpoles.

Webster, the defendant facing a 7-1/2 year sentence, was convicted in May on five felonies and one misdemeanor.

According to a Department of Justice press release, the felonies include:

  • “[A]ssaulting, resisting, or impeding officers with a dangerous weapon;”
  • “obstructing officers during a civil disorder;”
  • “entering and remaining in a restricted building or grounds, while carrying a dangerous weapon;”
  • “engaging in disorderly or disruptive conduct in a restricted building or grounds, while carrying a dangerous weapon;”
  • “and engaging in physical violence in a restricted building or grounds, while carrying a dangerous weapon.”


“He also was found guilty of one misdemeanor, engaging in an act of physical violence in the Capitol building or grounds,” the press release notes.

Interestingly, this objectively written press release contrasts sharply with a sentencing memo that was published by the DOJ on Wednesday.

The press release slams Webster for “disgracing a democracy that he once fought honorably to protect and serve.”

It’s not clear whether sentencing memos are always written in such a glaringly partisan manner.

The memo continues by accusing Webster of having swung a flag pole at Capitol Police officer Noah Rathbun, tackled him to the ground, and then choked him “by the chinstrap of his gas mask” during the Jan. 6th riot.

It also accuses him of “spearheading the breach of the police line at the Lower West Plaza.”

During his trial, Webster reportedly defended himself by describing Rathbun as a “rogue cop” and questioning the officer’s “training, integrity, and professionalism,” according to the memo. Prosecutors took this as proof that he lacks remorse for his attack on Rathbun.

“To this day, Webster has never once apologized to Officer Rathbun, much less accepted responsibility for his unprovoked violence against the police on January 6, 2021,” the memo reads.

The memo also argues against a lesser sentence on the basis that Webster should have known better as a former cop himself.

“Police officers and the lawmakers they sought to protect were under siege that day, and Webster understood that better than most. His argument that he, a twenty-year NYPD veteran, believed he was entitled to retaliate with deadly and dangerous force against the vulnerable and non-violent Officer Rathbun is not only absurd, but dangerous,” the memo reads.

“It may cause others to follow suit and use violence against an officer because of a political grievance. A lesser sentence would undervalue the bravery and self-control Officer Rathbun demonstrated on January 6, and could risk sending a message to the general public that entering a restricted area and perpetrating violence against the police is an acceptable form of protest.”

When Webster was arrested back in April of 2021, he made headlines at the time for complaining about being housed with “inner-city” criminals:

The other defendant, Richardson, was already sentenced on Friday for just “assaulting, resisting, or impeding officers.”

“[O]n Jan. 6, 2021, Richardson made his way to the restricted area of the U.S. Capitol grounds, passing by metal barriers and police officers attempting to keep the crowd away. He was carrying a flagpole that he initially waved while he was among the crowd. At about 1:38 p.m., Richardson was standing several feet away from the police line at the West Terrace with the flagpole,” according to a separate press release.

“He raised it and forcefully swung it downward to strike an officer with the Metropolitan Police Department who was standing behind a metal barricade. Richardson then struck the officer two more times, using enough force to break the flagpole. Then, moments later, he joined other rioters in pushing a large metal sign into a line of law enforcement officers.”


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Vivek Saxena


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