Although federal prosecutors recommended home confinement for Capitol rioter Matthew Mazzocco, a judge went with a harsher sentence and is sending him to prison instead.
“There have to be consequences for participating in an attempted violent overthrow of the government, beyond sitting at home,” U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan said in court Monday.
This is the first time a judge has overruled the government’s sentencing recommendation and given a more severe sentence in a case involving the insurrection, BuzzFeed’s Zoe Tillman reported.
Mazzocco, a 37-year-old former loan officer from San Antonio, pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor count of parading, demonstrating, or picketing in the Capitol for his participation on January 6th. Prosecutors included in a sentencing memorandum numerous selfies Mazzocco took during the riot. “As if documenting a vacation,” prosecutors wrote, “he paused several times to photograph the growing crowd and the increasing chaos.” Prosecutors said that Mazzocco spent “about 12 minutes” inside the building but did not engage in violence or destruction of property.
The government recommended three months of home confinement and probation for Mazzocco in part because he was among the first rioters to plead guilty. But according to BuzzFeed News, Chutkan said that home confinement does not “reflect the seriousness of the crime,” so she sentenced him to 45 days in prison.
Explaining why she chose prison for Mazzocco, Chutkan said, “If Mr. Mazzocco walks away with probation and a slap on the wrist, that’s not going to deter anyone from trying to do what he did. Nor do I agree with the government that confining him to his home, where he can be with his family, is appropriate.”
The judge also had words for those who have compared the people who broke into the Capitol on January 6th to Black Lives Matter protesters over the summer of 2020, the AP reported. Chutkan said it was wrong “to compare the actions of people protesting, mostly peacefully, for civil rights” to the violent crowd that “was trying to overthrow the government.”
More than 600 people have been arrested in connection with the Jan. 6 riot, and more than 70 have pled guilty. Mazzocco is the 12th defendant to be sentenced for breaching the Capitol, and he is the sixth to receive a prison sentence. Two other non-violent Capitol rioters received a sentence of 45 days in prison last week. Prosecutors had asked for four months.
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