A Kentucky man with a lengthy criminal record has been sentenced to a record-setting 14 years and two months in prison for his role on January 6th at the U.S. Capitol. Peter Schwartz’ prison sentence is the longest among hundreds of cases.
He was sentenced for attacking police officers with pepper spray and a chair while storming the Capitol with his wife. Schwartz was armed with a wooden tire knocker and a police-issued “super soaker” canister of pepper spray, which he used to spray at retreating officers, the AP reports.
During the sentencing, U.S. District Judge Amit Mehta stated that Schwartz was a “soldier against democracy” who participated in “the kind of mayhem, chaos that had never been seen in the country’s history.” The judge further added, “You are not a political prisoner…You’re not somebody who is standing up against injustice or fighting against an autocratic regime.”
Prosecutors had recommended a prison sentence of 24 years and 6 months for Schwartz, but the judge reduced the sentence to 14 years and two months in prison, followed by three years of supervised release.
Schwartz briefly addressed the judge before learning his sentence, saying, “I do sincerely regret the damage that Jan. 6 has caused to so many people and their lives.” However, the judge said he didn’t believe Schwartz’s statement, noting his lack of remorse.
Schwartz’s criminal record includes 38 prior convictions since 1991, “several of which involved assaulting or threatening officers or other authority figures,” prosecutor Jocelyn Bond wrote in a court filing. Schwartz was on probation when he joined the Jan. 6 protest.
Schwartz’s attorneys requested a prison sentence of four years and six months, saying that his actions on Jan. 6 were motivated by a “misunderstanding” about the 2020 presidential election. However, prosecutors argued that Schwartz had bragged about his participation in the protests, shown no remorse, and claimed that his prosecution was politically motivated.
Before leaving the Capitol, Schwartz joined a “heave ho” push against police in the tunnel. Stallings, his then-wife, pleaded guilty last year to riot-related charges and was sentenced last month to two years of incarceration.
Schwartz was tried with co-defendants Markus Maly and Jeffrey Brown. In December, a jury convicted all three of assault charges and other felony offenses. Mehta sentenced Brown last Friday to four years and six months in prison. Maly is scheduled to be sentenced on June 9th.
More than 1,000 people have been charged with federal crimes related to Jan. 6, with nearly 500 of them already sentenced. The 10-year prison sentence that Mehta handed down in September to retired NYPD officer Thomas Webster had remained the longest until Schwartz’s sentencing. Webster had used a metal flagpole to assault an officer and then tackled the same officer as they advanced toward the Capitol.