Federal judge sentences former Houston cop to prison over Jan. 6 riot after making head-turning observation

A former veteran Houston police officer is now facing a short prison stint after a federal judge sentenced him last week for participating in the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol Building and accusing him of violating his sworn oath.

Tam Dinh Pham, who spent 18 years as a Houston Police Department patrol officer, was sentenced Thursday by U.S. District Judge Timothy J. Kelly, a Trump appointee, in Washington, D.C., according to the Houston Chronicle.

Kelly sentenced Pham to 45 days in jail even though he acknowledged that the former cop did not play a major role in the incident.

“Your role was very minor on that day,” Kelly said during sentencing, according to the paper. “On the other hand, without people like you, the collective force of the mob would not have been the same.”

While Kelly initially was considering just sentencing Pham to probation, the judge went on to indicate he settled on a jail term because he believes that Pham violated an oath to uphold the Constitution, according to WUSA9 reporter Eric Flack.


“Judge strongly considered probation but said Pham violated sworn duties to uphold constitution and added air of legitimacy to riot because Pham was police officer at time,” Flack noted on Twitter.

The former cop pleaded guilty in September to a charge of parading, demonstrating, or picketing inside the U.S. Capitol. In court documents, prosecutors argued that Pham also attended the speech that then-President Donald Trump gave during a “Stop the Steal” rally near the White House on the day of the riot, following others to the building after the speech.

Pham reportedly went into the Capitol Building around 2:30 p.m. and took pictures of himself while he was inside, according to the court documents.

He went on to pose in front of a bronze statue of former President Gerald Ford that someone had placed a flag in his arms which read, “Trump 2020 — No More Bulls**t,” noted the documents.

(Video: WUSA)

Last month, the man known as “QAnon Shaman” — Jacob Chansley, 34 — was sentenced to more than three years behind bars for his role in the riot. In September, he pleaded guilty to one count of felony obstruction of an official proceeding, which got him 41 months in prison and a $2,000 fine.

Prosecutors sought a prison term of about 51 months under a charge that carried a maximum sentence of 20 years along with a $1 million fine, reports noted at the time.

“The Department of Justice alleged that Chansley entered the Capitol building at 2:14 p.m. and eventually went onto the Senate floor, taking pictures on the dais. He was accused of saying ‘Mike Pence is a f—— traitor,’ and writing a note that read, “It’s Only A Matter of Time. Justice Is Coming!’,” Fox News noted.

Chansley had been in custody since January. After serving his prison term, he will begin a 36-month period of supervised release.

“With his furry horned hat, 6-foot spear and bare tattooed chest, prosecutors described Chansley as the ‘public face of the Capitol riot’ in a sentencing memo…Prosecutors added that Chansley, who promoted the far-right QAnon conspiracy theory, used social media to spread ‘false information and hateful rhetoric’ that inflamed the riot,” NBC News added.

Federal officials have charged more than 600 people with various violations related to the riot. About 100 or so have pleaded guilty to mostly misdemeanors.

Jon Dougherty


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