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Purple Heart recipient to pay $500 fine for role in Capitol riot

A judge ruled probation wasn't appropriate for 75-year-old William Blauser, of Pennsylvania.

WASHINGTON — A U.S. Navy Veteran who earned a Purple Heart in Vietnam was ordered to pay a fine Thursday for taking part in the Capitol riot last year.

William Blauser, 75, of Pennsylvania, appeared before U.S. District Judge Trevor McFadden for sentencing. He pleaded guilty in November to one misdemeanor count of parading, demonstrating or picketing in a Capitol building.

According to the Justice Department, Blauser traveled to D.C. with several friends, including one, Pauline Bauer, who would eventually be charged alongside him. Before sentencing him Thursday, McFadden asked Blauser how he wound up inside the U.S. Capitol Building.

Blauser said he intended to visit the Vietnam War Memorial and then “see our senator speak.” Neither of Pennsylvania’s U.S. Senators spoke at the Jan. 6 “Stop the Steal” rally, but state Sen. Doug Mastriano was at the rally and took part in the march to the Capitol. Blauser’s co-defendant, Bauer, can be seen in photographs from Jan. 6 wearing a Mastriano shirt. He has not been charged in connection with the riot and has denied breaking any laws.

Blauser’s attorney, David Benowitz, told McFadden he “regrets ever coming that day and getting swept up in the crowd.” He said, and prosecutors agreed, that his only contact with police on Jan. 6 was a brief moment when he pulled Bauer back from behind a group of officers.

“Your honor, I am remorseful for what I did on Jan. 6, 2021,” Blauser said. “I’ll never get into those kind of situations again. For now, my plans are to take care of my family, take care of my friends, take care of my fellow veterans to the best of my ability.”

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McFadden said Blauser’s military service warranted a downward departure. Blauser served with distinction in the Navy during the Vietnam War and received a Purple Heart for being shot multiple times while on a river boat. Still, McFadden said, what he did on Jan. 6 was a crime.

“When you pushed your way through the crowd and entered the Capitol that afternoon, you were trespassing in one of our country’s most sacred places,” McFadden said.

McFadden sentenced Blauser to pay a $500 fine on top of the standard $500 restitution all Capitol riot misdemeanor defendants are paying for damage to the building. McFadden said he didn’t feel any term of probation was appropriate in Blauser’s case.

Blauser’s co-defendant, Bauer, has not pleaded guilty in the case. She faces a felony charge of obstruction of an official proceeding. According to charging documents, Bauer can be heard on videos from the riot yelling at police: “Bring them out. We want them out here… You bring them out or we’re coming in. Bring them out now. They need to hang. Bring her out. Bring Nancy Pelosi out here now. We want to hang that f***ing b****. Bring her out. We’re coming in if you don’t bring her out.”

Bauer, who has expressed views in court aligned with the sovereign citizen movement, was ordered back into pretrial detention for violating the terms of her release. She was next scheduled to appear in court on Feb. 18.

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