A federal judge sentenced Jan. 6 rioter Frank Scavo, a Donald Trump supporter from Pennsylvania, to 60 days in prison on Monday — one of the harshest sentences doled out to a misdemeanor defendant and more than four times what prosecutors initially sought.
Judge Royce Lamberth issued the sentence after raising concerns about whether Scavo had sought to downplay his behavior even as late as the day of his sentencing, when he read a letter that softened the conduct he admitted to in his plea agreement.
Scavo chartered several buses to transport about 200 Pennsylvania residents to Washington on Jan. 6. During the sentencing call, he said he couldn’t see what was happening while entering the building due to his “small size,” and that he wants to make amends for his actions on that “dark day.”
The prosecution played several videos that highlighted Scavo’s role at the event to show he was aware of the “bedlam” occurring as he chanted, recorded video and spoke with other crowd members. While in the building, he took a video of himself saying, “This is top-secret shit. We’re in the Capitol. Stormed the fucking Capitol of the fucking United States at 58 years old,” according to filings in the case.
Scavo came forward soon after Jan. 6 and cooperated with the FBI, turning over footage and statements. Scavo’s defense argued that he “incriminated himself” by working with the government and accepting responsibility for his actions. They also asked for home confinement due to “serious health conditions.”
Lamberth said he credited Scavo for his early plea, lack of violence on Jan. 6 and for reading a letter before his sentencing, restating his regret and willingness to make amends.
However, Lamberth said he had to recognize that through Scavo’s and other rioters’ actions, the event “brought the government to a screeching halt that day. The consequence to the nation … has to be weighed in the balance.”
Lamberth’s sentence — which includes a $5,000 fine, the maximum amount possible — is the latest in a handful of cases in which a judge opted to deliver a harsher sentence than prosecutors requested. Judge Tanya Chutkan recently exceeded the Justice Department’s recommendations in two misdemeanor sentencings as well, saying the attacks represented an affront to American democracy.
The judge also said he took issue with the letter Scavo read before the sentencing, in which the defendant described the way he entered the building. Lamberth said Scavo “was lying at that first hearing to me.”
“Your little memo the other day caused great problems for me,” he continued. “He was careful in what he said today but that is a problem. How he stood there on those steps not realizing and turning around and leaving then is still a problem.”
Lamberth’s concern that Scavo was downplaying his conduct may be rooted in his experience in another Jan. 6 case: the sentencing of Anna Morgan-Lloyd. Morgan-Lloyd was one of the first rioters sentenced, and Lamberth agreed to a probation-only punishment, accepting her contrition as genuine. But Morgan-Lloyd later went on Fox News for an interview with host Laura Ingraham and seemed to bolster false claims that the breach of the Capitol was nonviolent.
Lamberth didn’t expand on his reasoning for the sentence as much as he has in earlier cases, but he made it clear that he was settled on his decision.
“As I said, Mr. Scavo, from the point the jig was up, you’ve done everything you’ve said,” Lamberth said. “Good luck to you.”