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Judge sentences New Jersey gym owner to 3.5 years in prison for punching officer during Capitol riot

Scott Fairlamb was the first January 6 defendant to be sentenced for assaulting police during the attack on the U.S. Capitol Building.

WASHINGTON — A federal judge sentenced a New Jersey gym owner Wednesday to serve nearly 3.5 years in prison for punching a D.C. Police officer in the head during the Capitol riot.

Scott Fairlamb pleaded guilty in September to one count each of obstruction of an official proceeding and assaulting, resisting or impeding police. Footage captured outside the U.S. Capitol Building on January 6 shows Fairlamb inciting other rioters and accosting police – at one point yelling, “Are you an American!?” – before striking an officer who was attempting to reinforce others inside the building.

In other videos, Fairlamb can be seen climbing up scaffolding for the inaugural stage and yelling, "What do patriots do? We [expletive] disarm them and then we storm the [expletive] Capitol!"

Fairlamb faced a recommended sentencing range of 41-51 months in prison, and the Justice Department argued in a memo that he should serve the upper end of that. During his sentencing hearing before U.S. District Judge Royce C. Lamberth on Wednesday, prosecutors said Fairlamb, a boxing trainer and one-time MMA fighter, knew the sort of injury he could cause when he punched the officer. They also said previous assault charges he’s faced show the January 6 assault wasn’t an isolated incident, calling it “one of a long line of assaults.”

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Fairlamb’s attorney, Harley Breite, argued the opposite. He said Fairlamb – the son of a former New Jersey state trooper and the brother of a Secret Service officer – “reveres” law enforcement and that the assault was “absolutely aberrational.” He also argued Fairlamb’s 11 months in detention, most of it spent in the Correctional Treatment Facility in D.C. where January 6 defendants are being held, has been “particularly harsh.”

In his sentencing memo, Breite compared Fairlamb’s time at the jail to “One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich,” a novel by the Russian author Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn describing conditions inside Soviet-era labor camps. Breite said Fairlamb had repeatedly threatened by a D.C. Department of Corrections guard over his participation in a nightly ritual where January 6 defendants sing the Star Spangled Banner together.

Conditions in the D.C. Jail have been the subject of increasing scrutiny since Lamberth himself held two top corrections officials in contempt over their failure to turn over another Capitol riot defendant’s medical records in a timely manner. A surprise inspection by the U.S. Marshal’s Service subsequently found deplorable conditions in the Central Detention Facility where most defendants facing charges in D.C. are held, and the Marshals announced they would move approximately 400 federal inmates out of the facility. The inspection did not find similarly poor conditions in the Correctional Treatment Facility, where January 6 defendants are held.

Fairlamb also spoke at the hearing, telling Lamberth he wanted to apologize to his family for damaging the name they spent their whole life building up with his “irresponsible and reckless behavior.” He also said the person seen in footage from January 6 was not the person he is.

“I want to let you know, your honor: This is not Scott Fairlamb. This is not who I am. This is not who I was raised to be,” he said. “I have nothing but remorse.

Lamberth told Fairlamb he was fortunate he didn’t injure the officer when he attacked him, and said it was likely a good decision to take the plea he did.

“Had you gone to trial, I don’t think there’s any jury who could have or would have acquitted you,” he said.

While Fairlamb’s attorney had argued for a sentence of 11 months – effectively time served – Lamberth said he could not “in good conscience” give him less than the recommended guideline sentence. He ordered Fairlamb to serve 41 months in prison, followed by 36 months of supervised release. Fairlamb will also have to pay $2,000 in restitution for damage done to the Capitol. Lamberth did not impose a fine, though the DOJ had requested one to offset the $30,000 Fairlamb has raised online since his arrest.

Lamberth did say he would order Fairlamb to be “expeditiously removed” from the D.C. Jail. Breite requested he be allowed to serve his sentence at a federal facility in New Jersey near where he lives.

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