A small business owner from Ohio who said he believes Donald Trump is “combatting human trafficking” will spend months behind bars for kicking in a window to the U.S. Capitol building on Jan. 6.
Troy Faulkner, 41, was sentenced Thursday to five months in jail after pleading guilty in August to destroying government property. Pursuant to his plea agreement, he will pay $10,560 in restitution for destroying what Chief U.S. District Judge Beryl Howell said was an “historic window” in the Capitol building.
Faulkner will also serve three years of supervised release.
The sentence matches what prosecutors had requested. Faulkner had requested a sentence of probation only, or, alternatively, home confinement that would allow him to continue working.
The Ohio man, who has a criminal record of 10 previous convictions including making menacing threats and operating a vehicle while under the influence, was memorably seen wearing a jacket for his company, Faulkner Painting, while participating in the violent riot at the Capitol, when hundreds of Trump supporters, angry over their candidate’s loss to Joe Biden in the 2020 presidential election, overran police and breached the building as Congress certified the Electoral College vote. Faulkner’s jacket was also emblazoned with the business’ phone number.
“Jeez, man,” one of Faulkner’s Facebook friends wrote on the defendant’s page above a picture of him in his “Faulkner Painting” jacket. “You wore your company jacket into the middle of the insurrection?”
Faulkner admitted that before turning himself in to local authorities, he had burned that very jacket.
At Thursday’s hearing before Chief U.S. District Judge Beryl Howell, Faulkner said that he had voted for Barack Obama twice but that he came to support Trump after he “started looking into” claims about human trafficking and missing children in the U.S.
“That’s why I supported that man,” he said, at times sounding emotional. “Not because of what he says [or] what he tweets.”
Faulkner said he isn’t attached to the Republican party and that he wasn’t familiar with Republican lawmakers, he just knew “what [Trump] promised to do” for child sex trafficking victims.
“I didn’t vote for Trump the first time, but I [have] seen what he was trying to do, and that’s the whole passion of why I do like that man,” Faulkner said. “[He’s] combatting human trafficking.”
Neither Faulkner’s nor the government’s sentencing memoranda mentioned QAnon, the right-wing conspiracy theory that puts Trump at the head of an effort to battle a cabal of Satan-worshipping pedophiles engaged in a worldwide child sex trafficking ring.
The defendant’s sentencing brief did, however, insist that “[h]is political opinions have changed and has come to feel that he has been used and manipulated by information that he has received by the media.”
Howell, an Obama appointee, questioned how much Faulkner’s “political opinions” truly had changed, noting that her courtroom staff had told her that during some previous hearings conducted over video, a “very large cutout” of the former president was placed prominently on Faulkner’s screen.
“[It] got covered up by the time I came on the bench,” Howell said, asking defense attorney John Machado if Faulkner’s political opinions have really “changed that much.”
Machado said that his client was still a “fan” of the former president, but that he does not believe that the 2020 election was “rigged.”
For his part, Faulkner said that the “cardboard cutout” was a gift that he didn’t want to throw away.
Howell said that Faulkner’s action of kicking in the window exposed law enforcement officers inside the building to verbal taunts and threats from rioters outside.
“After he broke the window, this crowd, this angry mob cheered him on, they literally cheered him, and now they could see through the window,” Howell said, adding that the rioters “started calling officers traitors, using flagpoles to keep them away from the windows.”
At the start of the sentencing, Howell asked Faulkner — as she did at his plea agreement hearing — whether he was satisfied with Machado’s representation of him. Faulkner echoed what he had said in August: that he was surprised as to how pleased he actually was with Machado, who was appointed to represent Faulkner pursuant to the Criminal Justice Act, which establishes guidelines for providing legal representation for defendants who cannot afford to pay for their own lawyers.
“You may be surprised, Mr. Faulkner, but I am not all surprised that you received excellent representation from your CJA-appointed counsel,” Howell said, noting that attorneys on the CJA panel are chosen for their “judgment, expertise, and their skills as criminal defense attorneys.”
She said that the general public may not have an entirely accurate perception of CJA-appointed lawyers and hoped that by making hearings available to the public, those perceptions may change.
“Thank you, Mr. Faulkner, for the opportunity to correct this,” she said.
[Images via FBI court filings.]
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