Man insults judge who sentenced him to 12 years in prison for attacking police during Capitol riot

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WASHINGTON (AP) — A New Jersey electrician who repeatedly attacked police officers during the Jan. 6, 2021, siege at the U.S. Capitol was sentenced on Friday to 12 years in prison by a judge who called him “a menace to our society.”

Christopher Joseph Quaglin argued with and insulted U.S. District Judge Trevor McFadden before and after the judge handed him one of the longest prison sentences among hundreds of Capitol riot cases.

“You’re Trump’s worst mistake of 2016,” Quaglin told McFadden, who was nominated to the court by then-President Donald Trump in 2017.

Quaglin, 38, joined the mob of Trump supporters who stormed the Capitol. He injured a police officer when he choked and tackled him to the ground. Quaglin assaulted other officers with stolen police shields, metal bike racks and pepper spray. He clashed with police for roughly three hours while wearing an American flag-themed “Make America Great Again” sweatshirt.

“What an outrage. What a disgrace,” the judge said.

Quaglin complained about his jail conditions and pushed conspiracy theories about the Jan. 6 siege during his rambling remarks in the courtroom. He also took issue with labeling the Jan. 6 attack as an insurrection.

“If I wanted to bring an insurrection, I would have brought a long gun,” he said.

The judge, who cut him off after several minutes, told Quaglin that his combative remarks were a “really bad idea” before sentencing.

“It’s a kangaroo court,” Quaglin responded.

Prosecutors urged the judge to sentence Quaglin to 14 years in prison. They said he was one of the most violent rioters on Jan. 6, when a mob of Donald Trump supporters disrupted the joint session of Congress for certifying President Joe Biden’s 2020 electoral victory.

The judge convicted Quaglin of six separate assaults on police. Prosecutors say he struck or pushed another dozen officers.

“Quaglin understood the constitutional significance of January 6, and intended to disrupt Congress’ certification of the 2020 election by any means necessary, including by viciously assaulting police officers for hours,” prosecutors wrote.

Approximately 1,400 people have been charged with Capitol riot-related federal crimes. Nearly 900 of them have been sentenced, with roughly two-thirds receiving a term of imprisonment ranging from a few days to 22 years. Only seven Capitol riot defendants have received a longer prison sentence than Quaglin, according to an Associated Press review of court records.

McFadden convicted Quaglin of 14 counts last July after a “stipulated bench trial,” which means the judge decided the case without a jury and based on facts that both sides agreed to before the trial. Such trials allow defendants to maintain appeal rights that are waived by a guilty plea.

Quaglin traveled from his home in North Brunswick, New Jersey, to attend then-President Donald Trump’s “Stop the Steal” rally near the White House on Jan. 6. Leaving the rally early, Quaglin recorded a video of himself as he marched to the Capitol wearing a helmet, a gas mask and a backpack.

After storming barricades near Peace Circle, Quaglin repeatedly attacked officers who were trying to hold off the mob. Capitol Police Sgt. Troy Robinson was injured when Quaglin grabbed him by the neck and tackled him to the ground.

“Quaglin’s attack ignited a short brawl,” prosecutors wrote. “With Quaglin on top of Sergeant Robinson, other rioters came to Quaglin’s assistance and chaos broke loose.”

Quaglin “waged a relentless siege” as he joined other rioters in attacking police in a tunnel on the Capitol’s Lower West Terrace, prosecutors said. He helped another rioter steal a shield from an officer. He pepper sprayed several officers in the face. And he joined the mob’s collective “heave ho” push against a police line.

“Quaglin was part of some of the most gruesome attacks in the tunnel as he worked with other rioters to ensure that officers were under constant attack,” prosecutors wrote.

Quaglin later celebrated and bragged about his participation in the riot.

“It was a great time. I got bumps and bruises. And we’re having a good time,” he said in a video posted on social media.

Defense attorney Kristi Fulnecky claims Quaglin has received inadequate medical treatment while jailed for the past three years. Fulnecky also said one of Quaglin’s former attorneys coerced him into accepting a stipulated bench trial instead of a contested trial.

McFadden told Quaglin that his actions on Jan. 6 were “shocking and lawless.”

“January 6th is not simply an anomaly for you,” the judge said. “You’ve allowed it to define you.”

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