‘I find it outrageous that American citizens would do what you did, so you better walk the straight and narrow, sir, you understand?’
A minor participant in the 6 January Capitol riot has received a major tongue-lashing from a federal judge.
“You’ve disgraced this country in the eyes of the world and my inclination would be to lock you up, but since the government isn’t asking me to do that … I won’t,” US District Court Judge Reggie Walton scolded defendant Anthony Mariotto at a hearing on Friday, according to Politico.
The Florida local had been charged with entering and remaining in a restricted building, two counts of disorderly conduct, entering and remaining in the gallery of Congress, and parading, demonstrating, or picketing in a Capitol building.
But as part of a plea deal, prosecutors dropped all the charges except for the parading, to which Mr Mariotto pleaded guilty. The misdemeanor carries a maximum prison sentence of six months.
According to the Department of Justice, more than 600 people have been arrested in connection to the 6 January assault, when a mob of Donald Trump supporters stormed the US Capitol.
Unlike many of the other rioters, Mr Mariotto is not accused of any violence or property damage. According to the criminal complaint against him, he was caught largely because he posted a Facebook photo of himself in the Senate Chamber. A tipster who knew him sent a screenshot of the photo to the FBI.
“Mariotto is clearly depicted in the screen shot Citizen 1 provided,” an FBI agent wrote in the complaint. “The screen shot depicts Mariotto in the Senate Chamber with the following caption ‘I’m in [sic] And there are just a few [sic] This is our house.”
On Friday, Judge Walton excoriated Mr Mariotto for his behaviour.
“I find it outrageous that American citizens would do what you did,” the judge thundered, “so you better walk the straight and narrow, sir, you understand?”
“I do, your honour,” Mr Mariotto answered sheepishly.
The judge also posed a rhetorical question.
“What if the next time around, the Democrats lose the presidency and start a riot?” he asked. “I guess you think that would be all right, in light of what you did, right?”
“No,” Mariotto replied.
Mr Mariotto’s sentencing is scheduled for 17 December. Until then he will be free on his own recognizance.