The first Jan. 6 rioter to plead guilty to assaulting a police officer has been sentenced to more than three years in prison, in a case that is widely believed to be a benchmark of how judges may treat similar cases going forward.
Scott Kevin Fairlamb, a former Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) fighter from New Jersey, was sentenced to 41 months in prison, followed by three years of probation. A Trump supporter and brother of a Secret Service agent, Fairlamb pleaded guilty in August to obstructing congressional proceedings and assaulting an officer, including by punching an officer, “unprovoked.”
Senior U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth, a Ronald Reagan appointee, said that while he believed Fairlamb was sincere in his remorse and regret for his actions, the crime of assaulting an officer trying to protect lawmakers is serious enough to warrant incarceration.
“You were part of the overall circumstances that led to the obstruct [and the] inability of congress to function, the inability of the electoral college to go forward that day,” Lamberth said at Wednesday’s sentencing hearing. “The offense itself that you committed is so at the heart of our democracy that I cannot in good conscience go below the [sentencing] guidelines.”
The stiff prison sentence follows criticism—from the general public and even federal judges—of an approach by federal prosecutors to let more than 100 charged with Jan. 6-related offenses plead only to misdemeanors. As a result, most of the sentences dealt to date in those cases have not included incarceration. Chief U.S. District Judge Beryl Howell, who heads the District of Washington, skewered prosecutors for their “almost schizophrenic” approach to signing off on “petty offenses” for participation in “the crime of century.”
Prosecutors have deflected this criticism by arguing that heavier punishment would come for the more culpable, such as the roughly 210 people charged with assaulting law enforcement at the Capitol.
With Fairlamb’s sentencing, prosecutors’ predictions have come to pass.
Federal prosecutors had recommended a sentence of 44 months in prison, followed by three years of probation. Fairlamb had asked for a sentence of 11 months incarceration—essentially time already served— plus three years of supervised release, or six months of home detention.
Prosecutors and the defense had agreed that Fairlamb would pay $2,000 in restitution.
At the hearing, Assistant U.S. Attorney Leslie Goemaat asked Lamberth to impose an additional financial fine, citing Fairlamb’s fundraising efforts, which have raised at least $30,000.
“This defendant has undoubtedly experienced great financial trouble as a result of being incarcerated,” Goemaat said, acknowledging that Fairlamb has had to close his gym. However, Goemaat said, “it is not appropriate to financially benefit from a crime such as this.”
Lamberth declined to impose an additional fine.
In asking for the judge to impose time served, Fairlamb’s attorney, Harley Breite, said Fairlamb’s assault on the officer was a momentary lapse in judgment.
Fairlamb is a “gentleman who has lived by a certain set of principles,” including strong support of law enforcement, Breite said. Fairlamb’s brother works for the U.S. Secret Service, and his father was a New Jersey state trooper.
“There are few instances where we see an individual take this type of wrong step after such a long history of contributions to the law enforcement community,” Breite said.
“The sum of any man’s life cannot be his worst moment,” he later added.
Breite also shared with the court the story of how Fairlamb helped Breite realize his dream to challenge a professional Brazilian fighter.
“I knew I wasn’t going to win the fight,” Breite said, noting that he ended up spending three days in the hospital after the brawl. “But the point is that Scott Fairlamb is a human being who sees through people and sees into people … he saw in me a dream and he helped me realize that dream, not because it benefitted him. He helped someone achieve their dream and he was genuinely happy about that.”
Fairlamb, who appeared in person at the hearing, said that he regrets the toll that his actions have taken on his family.
“I want to apologize to them, for [in] just a short time taking our family name that we built, that they built their whole life, [damaging] the reputation of the family name,” Fairlamb said. “I want to apologize to them for the completely irresponsible and reckless behavior I showed that day.”
Fairlamb added that he takes “full responsibility” for his actions.
“That is not Scott Fairlamb,” he said. “That’s not who I am. That’s not who I was raised to be. I truly regret my actions that day. I have nothing but remorse.”
“I can just hope you show some mercy on me, sir,” he added, speaking directly to Lamberth.
In August, Fairlamb pleaded guilty to assaulting a police officer, and to obstructing an official proceeding.
Video and still photos show Fairlamb engaged in a variety of unlawful activity on Jan. 6. As hundreds of Donald Trump supporters surged toward the Capitol building, Fairlamb climbed and stood on scaffolding on Capitol grounds, obtained a police baton, and broke through police lines to enter the Capitol building in an attempt to stop the certification of Joe Biden’s win over Trump in the 2020 presidential election.
Fairlamb also punched a police officer in the face.
After issuing his sentence, Lamberth agreed with Breite that Fairlamb should be moved out of the DC Correctional Treatment Facility (CTF), which has been plagued with complaints from inmates. In October, Lamberth found jail officials in contempt and called for a federal investigation into potential civil rights violations.
[Images courtesy Department of Justice.]
Have a tip we should know? [email protected]