A Kentucky man was sentenced to 14 years in prison for attacking police officers with pepper spray when he stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021 — setting a new record for the longest sentence imposed in connection to the riot.
Peter Schwartz, a 49-year-old welder, was slapped with the lengthy sentence Friday after he was convicted of assault charges and other felony offenses in December.
US District Judge Amit Mehta, who handed down the sentence, blasted Schwartz as a “soldier against democracy” who participated in “the kind of mayhem, chaos that had never been seen in the country’s history.”
“You are not a political prisoner,” the judge told him. “You’re not somebody who is standing up against injustice or fighting against an autocratic regime.”
Mehta previously dished the previous longest sentence when he gave retired NYPD cop Thomas Webster a 10-year sentence for assaulting an officer with a metal flagpole on Jan. 6.
Schwartz forced his way through a line of police officers on the Capitol’s Lower West Terrace with a group of rioters and his ex-wife, Shelly Stallings. He threw a folding chair at one of the cops, prosecutors said.
“By throwing that chair, Schwartz directly contributed to the fall of the police line that enabled rioters to flood forward and take over the entire terrace,” prosecutor Jocelyn Bond wrote in a court filing.
He was armed with a wooden tire knocker and a police-issued “super soaker” canister of pepper spray, which he sprayed at the retreating officers.
“While the stream of liquid did not directly hit any officer, its effect was to heighten the danger to the officers in that tunnel,” Bond wrote.
Before leaving, Schwartz also joined a “heave ho” push against police in the tunnel.
Stallings pleaded guilty last year to riot-related charges and was sentenced last month to two years behind bars.
Schwartz was convicted of assault charges and other felony offenses in December.
Prosecutors had recommended a prison sentence of 24 years and 6 months for Schwartz.
Schwartz’s defense attorneys requested a sentence between four and six years, claiming their client was motivated by a “misunderstanding” about the 2020 election, fueled by Donald Trump’s repeated lies that the election was rigged against him.
“There remain many grifters out there who remain free to continue propagating the ‘great lie’ that Trump won the election, Donald Trump being among the most prominent. Mr. Schwartz is not one of these individuals; he knows he was wrong,” his defense lawyers wrote.
Schwartz bragged about storming the Capitol, and has claimed that his prosecution is politically motivated, prosecutors said.
He referred to the riot as the “opening of a war” in a Facebook post a day after the riot.
“I was there and whether people will acknowledge it or not we are now at war,” Schwartz wrote.
Schwartz has raised over $71,000 from an online fundraising campaign entitled “Patriot Pete Political Prisoner in DC.”
Prosecutors asked Mehta to order Schwartz to pay a fine equaling the amount raised by his campaign, arguing that he shouldn’t profit from participating in the riot.
At the time of the riot, Schwartz was on probation. He has a “jaw-dropping” 38 prior convictions since 1991, “several of which involved assaulting or threatening officers or other authority figures,” Bond wrote.
Before his sentencing, Schwartz briefly addressed the judge and told him that he “sincerely regret[s] the damage that Jan. 6 has caused to so many people and their lives.”
The judge said he didn’t believe Schwartz’s statement.
“You took it upon yourself to try and injure multiple police officers that day,” Mehta said.
More than 100 police officers were injured during the riot.
With Post wires
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