A Donald Trump supporter who brought multiple weapons to Washington, D.C. ahead of Jan. 6, 2021, and shouted at law enforcement officers that they were “going to die” and to “get out of the way” as rioters marauded through the building that day has been sentenced to more than five years in prison.
Ronald Sandlin, 35, was alleged to have played a major role in amplifying violence against law enforcement at the Capitol who were trying to beat back the mob of Trump supporters looking to stop Congress from certifying Joe Biden’s win in the 2020 presidential election on Jan. 6. According to prosecutors, the defendant engaged in extensive planning ahead of time, posting on Facebook that he was organizing a caravan to travel to Washington and seeking donations in a GoFundMe campaign.
He and his alleged co-conspirators, Nathaniel DeGrave and Josiah Colt, allegedly discussed “shipping guns” to Sandlin’s residence in Tennessee, where they are believed to have loaded up a rental car with weapons — including pistols, magazines of ammunition, bear mace, gas masks, a stun gun, body armor, knives, and walkie-talkies — before heading toward the nation’s capital on Jan. 5.
Upon joining the crowd at the Capitol, on Jan. 6, Sandlin is heard shouting “we made history” and “God is on our side,” according to the government. While in the Rotunda, the trio approached a group of U.S. Capitol Police officers standing guard in front of the Rotunda doors, surrounded by dozens of people.
“Get out of the way,” Sandlin yelled at the officers as he approached them.
“Your life is not worth it today,” Sandlin also shouted, adding: “You’re going to die, get out of the way.”
Sandlin was also seen smoking marijuana inside the building after having forced his way past a line of police officers has pleaded guilty to two felonies. He is also alleged to have deleted multiple messages that reflected culpability in the Capitol riot.
He pleaded guilty in September to two felonies: conspiracy to obstruct an official proceeding and assaulting, resisting, or impeding police officers.
In their sentencing memo, prosecutors emphasized not only Sandlin’s actions on the day, but also his apparent lack of remorse since. They specifically pointed to a letter from Sandlin posted in the conservative Gateway Pundit in October, in which Sandlin claims that his “vindictive and selective prosecution is on purpose to intimidate any perceived political threat to the Biden regime.”
The previous month, in September, Sandlin was accused of inciting a riot and threatening conduct during an incident at the D.C. jail. According to court filings, as a corrections officer was struggling to restrain a detainee, Sandlin, alongside Barton Shively and Ryan Nichols held up chairs “in a threatening manner” toward the officer and “in a throwing stance” in an apparent attempt to assault that officer and others.
Prosecutors also noted that Sandlin, while incarcerated, had made yet another fundraising attempt on a conservative crowdfunding site in which he said he was a “Mexican J6-er Political Prisoner in DC’s Gitmo” subject to a “politically biased judicial system.”
Prosecutors argued that Sandlin had tried to profit off of his videos by allegedly instructing a friend to “watermark his footage from inside the Capitol so that he could send a sample to potential buyers” and telling his ex-fiancée that he wanted to write a book about his “journey” and turn it into a movie. The memo also hinted at a possible attempt to sell his footage to documentary filmmaker Alexandra Pelosi — daughter of longtime House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), who was personally targeted and whose office was ransacked during the Capitol attack — although a footnote says that no deal appears to have been made.
Sandlin did submit a letter to U.S. District Judge Dabney Friedrich expressing a modicum of remorse.
“I want to start off by apologizing to the officers I assaulted January 6,” Sandlin said in his letter. “I have to live with my abhorrent actions for the rest of my life and I pray that my sentencing gives you and your families peace and resolution.”
“I want to apologize to my fellow countrymen and women for the role I took on January 6,” Sandlin also wrote. “I tarnished our great nation’s peaceful transfer of power and I’m truly ashamed, embarrassed and sorry for my actions.”
“I know the court is accustomed to crocodile tears and fake and insincere apologies but I hope that the court can see my sincerity and authenticity of my remorse,” he said.
For her part, Friedrich, a Trump appointee, didn’t appear to buy Sandlin’s apology. According to a courtroom report from Politico, Friedrich cited multiple aggravating factors during Sandlin’s sentencing, including calling the DOJ corrupt, saying the prosecutor was racist, spreading false information about Jan. 6, calling the prosecution a “witch hunt,” and claiming to be a victim.
SIDE NOTE: If Trump is ever prosecuted for Jan. 6 matters, he should hope he doesn’t get Judge Friedrich. Things she said were aggravating for Sandlin:
-Calling DOJ corrupt
-Calling prosecutor racist
-Spreading false info about J6
-Calling probe a witch hunt
— Kyle Cheney (@kyledcheney) December 9, 2022
Sandlin’s prison time will be followed by 36 months of supervised release. He will also have to pay $2,000 in restitution toward the estimated $2.7 million damage to the Capitol. Documents filed one week after Friedrich issued her sentence indicate that Sandlin will also have to pay a $20,000 fine.
The 63-month sentence is at the bottom end of the federal guidelines range, which had contemplated up to 78 months behind bars, but it is exactly what prosecutors had requested, pursuant to the plea agreement. The government had also requested the $20,000 fine.
Sandlin had requested a sentence of 41 months followed by an undetermined period of supervised release.
DeGrave pleaded guilty in June to two felonies: conspiracy to obstruct an official proceeding and assaulting, resisting, or impeding officers. His sentencing is set for February.
Colt pleaded guilty in July 2021 and also agreed to cooperate with the government’s investigation. He is awaiting sentencing.
Editor’s note: This story has been updated to reflect that Friedrich’s sentence includes a $20,000 fine.
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