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Capitol rioter receives longest sentence yet

A federal judge accused the man of acting as a “soldier against democracy”

A Kentucky man has been sentenced to 14 years in prison for his role in the riot at the US Capitol on January 6, 2021, the harshest penalty handed down to date following hundreds of similar cases linked to the unrest.

US District Judge Amit Mehta imposed the lengthy sentence on 49-year-old Peter Schwartz on Friday. Accused of attacking police officers with pepper spray and a chair during the riot, the man was previously found guilty of 10 charges, including four counts of felony assault, as well as resisting or impeding officers using a dangerous weapon.

In court, Mehta had few kind words for the convicted, calling Schwartz a “soldier against democracy” who took part in “the kind of mayhem, chaos that had never been seen in the country’s history.”


“You are not a political prisoner,” the judge continued. “You’re not somebody who is standing up against injustice or fighting against an autocratic regime.”

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While the prosecution had recommended a sentence of more than 24 years, Schwartz’s defense hoped for just four, with Mehta apparently finding middle ground between the two. Once out of prison, he will undergo three years of supervised release.

The judge noted Schwartz’s long criminal record, which includes 38 convictions since 1991, telling him “there are not many people who have come to this court with a criminal history like yours.” Several of his previous charges were related to “assaulting or threatening officers or other authority figures,” according to prosecutor Jocelyn Bond, who called the man’s rap sheet “jaw-dropping.”


Schwartz’s defense argued his actions were based on a “misunderstanding” of the 2020 presidential election, maintaining that he is remorseful. The race was strongly contested by former President Donald Trump and his allies, who alleged widespread voter fraud in favor of Joe Biden but failed to offer convincing evidence in a flurry of court cases. 

“There remain many grifters out there who remain free to continue propagating the ‘great lie’ that Trump won the election, Donald Trump being among the most prominent. Mr. Schwartz is not one of these individuals; he knows he was wrong,” his defense lawyers wrote.

Schwartz’s 14-year penalty follows another 10-year sentence handed down by Mehta for Thomas Webster, a retired New York police officer who was charged for assaulting a member of law enforcement outside the Capitol during the riot. Prior to Schwartz, Webster’s was the longest prison term imposed for any January 6 defendant.

READ MORE: Lawyer makes claim on US Capitol riot informants


May 06, 2023 at 10:17AM

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