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Trump-Appointed Judge Gives 'Break' to Jan. 6 Defendant - Denies Punishment Sought by Prosecutors

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A federal judge appointed during the Trump administration recently exercised judicial discretion by giving a self-described “break” to a defendant involved in the Jan. 6, 2021 incursion at the Capitol.

The judge’s decision deviated from the prosecution’s recommended prison term, prompting discussions on sentencing disparities in these cases.

According to a report from NBC News, Tyler Bensch, who pleaded guilty to two misdemeanor counts related to the incursion, received a sentence of two years probation and 60 days of home incarceration from U.S. District Judge Trevor McFadden.

Prosecutors had initially sought a more draconian nine-month federal prison term for Bensch’s involvement.

While acknowledging the seriousness of Bensch’s participation in the events of Jan. 6, Judge McFadden considered the defendant’s limited role compared to others and his young age as mitigating factors. Bensch was 19 years old at the time of the incident.

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Judge McFadden emphasized the importance of learning from past mistakes. “This doesn’t need to define you or your life,” McFadden told Bensch.

Bensch, who was arrested in August alongside members of the Three Percent movement and “Guardians of Freedom,” pleaded guilty to disorderly and disruptive conduct on restricted grounds, as well as theft of government property for aiding in the removal of a stolen police shield from the Capitol grounds.

Prosecutors argued that Bensch contributed to the escalation of violence by using bear spray against another protester.

During the sentencing hearing, Bensch remained silent, but his court-appointed attorney, Peter Cooper, expressed his client’s remorse and lack of understanding about the gravity of his actions.

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Cooper also highlighted Bensch’s aspiration to pursue a career in law enforcement, suggesting that misdemeanor charges should not unduly hinder his future prospects.

Bensch is currently employed by a pool cleaning company, and the conditions of his sentence permit him to leave his home for work during the 60-day period of home detention.

The case involving Bensch drew attention due to its connection with former FBI special agent Steve Friend, who became an FBI whistleblower after voicing his disagreement with charging protesters who allegedly assaulted officers on Jan. 6.

Friend testified before the GOP-led House Select Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government, raising concerns about the alleged unfair targeting of defendants and the perceived challenges faced by individuals in Washington, D.C., courts.

Several of the Jan. 6 defendants have waited in prison for months or even years for their day in court, and others are facing unusually long prison sentences for misdemeanor offenses.

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In another case related to Jan. 6, Barry Ramey received a five-year federal prison sentence for assaulting officers with pepper spray.

Prosecutors initially sought a nine-year term, but U.S. District Judge Dabney Friedrich opted for a shorter sentence to address potential sentencing disparities.

As the legal proceedings unfold for over 1,000 individuals charged in connection with the Jan. 6 incursion, discussions about the judicial discretion exercised in sentencing and potential variances in outcomes continue to shape the broader discourse surrounding accountability for the events that unfolded on that day.

This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.

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