WASHINGTON — A former Virginia police officer who served as a key witness in a fellow officer’s Jan. 6 trial was sentenced Tuesday to 12 months of probation for his role in the Capitol riot.
Jacob Fracker was an officer with the Rocky Mount Police Department when he and fellow officer Thomas Robertson entered the Capitol on Jan. 6. Fracker pleaded guilty in March to one felony count of conspiracy to obstruct an official proceeding, and in April, he testified against Robertson before a jury. At trial, Fracker said Robertson – who he described as almost a father figure – had recruited him to join his plan to disrupt the certification of Electoral College votes on Jan. 6. Afterward, Fracker said, Robertson destroyed both of their phones in an effort to destroy potentially incriminating evidence.
A jury convicted Robertson of six counts and last week he was sentenced to more than seven years in prison. On Tuesday, Fracker appeared for his own sentencing before U.S. District Judge Christopher Cooper.
Fracker faced a recommended sentencing guideline of 15-21 months in prison, and pretrial services included a recommendation in its presentencing report for three months behind bars. Prosecutors asked for six months of probation with community confinement or home detention, citing Fracker’s substantial cooperation with the prosecution of Robertson. Prosecutors and Fracker’s attorney both drew a distinction between Robertson – who Cooper last week said he believed would answer the “call to duty” again if another Jan. 6 were to happen – and Fracker.
“He has taken full responsibility without making excuses for his actions,” assistant U.S. attorney Liz Aloi said.
Defense attorney Bernard Crane drew a further distinction between Fracker, a U.S. Marine Corps veteran and, until Jan. 6, member of the U.S. Army Reserves, and Robertson, who prosecutors last week alleged lied about being an Army Ranger and falsely claimed to have received a Purple Heart. Fracker, Crane said, had followed in his family’s tradition of military service and still has shrapnel in his leg from injuries sustained during lengthy deployments in Afghanistan. Crane and Aloi said it was Robertson’s false military record that allowed him to draw Fracker in and recruit him for Jan. 6.
“I don’t think it’s an overstatement to say that Mr. Robinson blew up Mr. Fracker’s life,” Crane said. “But he’s not here to make excuses. He’s incredibly sorry for what he did.”
Because of his felony conviction, Crane noted, Fracker’s military and police careers were over. He asked Cooper to factor the weight of those losses into his sentence.
Fracker spoke briefly during the hearing, apologizing to his community and saying 70-80% of the reason he went to D.C. on Jan. 6 was to “know what the future will hold for my daughter.” Cooper pushed back on that, noting Fracker had sent messages to a friend about the riot saying “there’s hitters out here trying to make a f***ing difference at any cost.” He also asked Fracker why he and other Jan. 6 participants seemed to view the day “in terms of civil war and fighting for their country?”
“Do you ever consider that the folks behind the idea that the election was stolen, of which there isn’t any evidence, may have targeted and taken advantage of folks like you, for whom a message of patriotism might appeal?” Cooper asked.
Fracker said it was possible.
Cooper said he had been considering the DOJ’s request for community corrections, but after learning from pretrial services that no such facility existed near Fracker’s home, he ordered him instead to serve 12 months of probation – the first 59 days of which will be served on home detention. Crane had asked Cooper to keep any period of detention below 60 days to avoid Fracker losing his military disability benefits.
Fracker was also ordered to complete 120 hours of community service within the next year and to pay $2,000 in restitution for damage to the Capitol on Jan. 6.
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