The longest sentence yet in a Jan. 6 Capitol riot case was handed down on Friday in a Washington D.C. federal courtroom.
Peter Schwartz, 49, a welder who lived and worked in Pennsylvania but originally hailed from Kentucky, was sentenced to more than 14 years in federal prison for his actions during the Jan. 6 Capitol riot in 2021, according to the Daily Wire.
He had been convicted in December of throwing a folding chair at a line of police officers, causing that line to break and retreat, as well as attempting to use a stolen canister of pepper spray against other officers, though he did not hit any officers with the noxious spray.
According to the Associated Press, the sentence of 14 years and two months in prison plus three years of supervised release for Schwartz was delivered on Friday by U.S. District Judge Amit Mehta, who had also issued what was previously the longest sentence ever in a Jan. 6 case.
In that prior case, Mehta had given a 10-year prison sentence to a former New York City police officer, Thomas Webster, in September 2022 following Webster's conviction for assaulting an officer at the Capitol with a metal flagpole and then tackling that same officer.
Mehta's 14-year-plus sentence for Schwartz fell in between the 24 years and six months sentence that prosecutors had sought and the four years plus six months sentence his defense attorneys had requested.
Schwartz had been tried and convicted alongside co-defendants Jeffrey Brown and Markus Maly, who prosecutors said had coordinated their attacks on officers with pepper spray. Brown was sentenced one week earlier to four years plus six months in prison while Maly will be sentenced in June.
Schwartz's then-wife Shelly Stallings, who was also at the Capitol riot with him and has since filed for divorce, was similarly charged and separately pleaded guilty last year for her own criminal actions and was sentenced last month to two years in prison.
One of the reasons for Schwartz to have received such a lengthy sentence was his substantial prior criminal history, which included 38 previous convictions since 1991, several of which involved acts or threats of violence against others, including police officers.
The Washington Post reported that Judge Mehta told Schwartz during the sentencing hearing that he was "a soldier against democracy" who had been "at the front of the line" of those who attacked police officers at the Capitol during the Jan. 6 riot.
The outlet noted that Schwartz had bragged online about his actions following that event and has said in interviews that the prosecution against him was "a sham," while his defense attorney had argued that the 24-year sentence sought by prosecutors "would give credence to all those who consider this a political prosecution."
However, the judge told the defendant, "You can go on these podcasts and claim to be a victim of a political prosecution. You are not a political prisoner. You’re not somebody who is standing up to injustice. ... It’s up to you whether you want to take responsibility for your actions."
The Post noted that when offered an opportunity to speak on his own behalf during the hearing, Schwartz told the court, "I do sincerely regret the damage that January 6 has caused to so many people and their lives."
Yet, Judge Mehta said in reply, "I appreciate what you said. But I don’t believe it."