Vet Who Was Part of Jan. 6 Capitol Mob Sentenced. But He Won't Go to Prison

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Trump supporters try to break through a police barrier at the U.S. Capitol.
Trump supporters try to break through a police barrier at the Capitol in Washington on Jan. 6, 2021. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez, File)

COLUMBIA, S.C. — A South Carolina man who breached the U.S. Capitol during the Jan. 6 riot where protesters stormed the building will not go to prison for his part in what prosecutors in the case said was a mob attack on the country.

Paul Colbath, 65, of Fort Mill, was sentenced Wednesday by Washington U.S. District Court Judge Randolph Moss to a month of home detention confinement, three years probation and 60 hours of community service.

Colbath pleaded guilty in January to parading, demonstrating or picketing in a Capitol building, a charge which carries a six-month maximum sentence. Colbath admitted he followed the crowd into the building after protesters smashed doors and windows, then surged into the building. FBI photos showed Colbath inside the building.

Colbath is a military veteran with no previous criminal record, court testimony showed. He has a Fort Mill address in Lancaster County, just south of the state line with Charlotte.

Prosecutors: Colbath went in Capitol after breach

Colbath did not participate in damage to the building nor did he show any violence toward police who were attacked by other protesters, according to court records in the case.

Colbath texted his wife during the melee that there was tear gas in the building and left after six minutes inside, his lawyer said in court documents.

Colbath helped press forward into the building after the breach, prosecutors said. Prosecutors said in court documents that each rioter's actions contributed, directly and indirectly, to the violence and destruction of that day.

Judge Moss called the Jan. 6 riot "serious" in court Wednesday but did not give Colbath any active prison time.

Moss said in a teleconference court hearing Wednesday morning from Washington, where Colbath appeared from South Carolina in Columbia with his court-appointed public defender, that he has given similar sentences to others who pleaded guilty where the facts and level of involvement were similar.

Federal prosecutors said in documents Colbath was in Washington on Jan. 6, 2021, to attend the "Stop the Steal" rally that was held to protest the 2020 election where now President Joe Biden defeated former President Donald Trump. Before the riot, then- President Trump held the rally, falsely asserting the 2020 election was stolen. He urged people at his rally to march on the Capitol, saying, "If you don't fight like hell, you aren't going to have a country any more."

Official inquiries are now underway to investigate whether supporters of Trump orchestrated the mob attack on the Capitol as part of an overall conspiracy to stall action by Congress to certify the election for Biden.

One inquiry is by a bipartisan U.S. House Committee to investigate the events of Jan. 6. The Justice Department is also investigating possible pre-riot conspiracies to stop Congress from certifying Biden's election.

More than 775 people from nearly all 50 states have been arrested in connection with the storming of the Capitol that day. Eighty of those have been charged with using a deadly or dangerous weapon or causing serious bodily injury to an officer. Approximate 140 law officers were assaulted by the mob.

Colbath is one of 11 people from South Carolina arrested after the 2021 riot.

Three of the eleven are from York and Lancaster counties. The others are:

— John and Stacie Getsinger, a married couple from Hanahan. They will be sentenced on April 21. They have pleaded guilty to demonstrating inside the Capitol and await sentencing.

— Elliot Bishai, of Fort Mill in York County, is scheduled to plead guilty at a April 25 hearing, according to court testimony. He is charged with engaging in disorderly conduct with the intent to impede a session of Congress, entering a restricted Capitol building and parading and demonstrating in a U.S. Capitol building.

Undecided

— Derek Gunby, of Anderson County, has a hearing set for April 19 to decide whether to plead guilty or go to trial. He is charged with unlawfully entering Capitol grounds, disrupting the orderly conduct of government business and being disruptive in a Capitol building.

— William "Robbie" Norwood III of Greer may decide at an upcoming May 5 hearing to plead guilty or go to trial. He faces multiple charges including stealing government property, obstruction of an official proceeding, remaining in a restricted building, disorderly conduct in a restricted building, entering and remaining in certain Capitol rooms.

— George Tenney III, of Anderson, could decide at a May 5 hearing whether to plead guilty or go to trial. He was indicted in October on nine charges, including assaulting a law officer and engaging in acts of violence inside the Capitol.

— Elias Irizarry, a Citadel cadet from York County, will likely decide at a June 1 hearing whether to go to trial or plead guilty. He is charged with engaging in disorderly conduct with the intent to impede a session of Congress, entering a restricted Capitol building and parading and demonstrating in a U.S. Capitol building.

Guilty and Sentenced

— Andrew Hatley pleaded guilty to demonstrating inside the Capitol, and in December was sentenced to probation.

— Nicholas Langeurand, of Little River, pleaded guilty to assaulting, resisting, or impeding officers with a dangerous weapon and sentenced to 44 months in prison in January.

— James Lollis ,of Greer, pleaded guilty to demonstrating inside the Capitol, and in February was sentenced to three months home detention.

(c)2022 The Herald (Rock Hill, S.C.)

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