Kevin Daniel Loftus drove from Eau Claire to Washington, DC last year to take part in a “Stop the Steal” rally on January 6, then followed the mob that broke into the US capital.
When the 53-year-old machinist and father of two was inside the Rotunda, he spent about five minutes posing to take pictures, which he later posted on social media, with the message: “These are real people, some of us are in the process of winning it. “
His cohorts did not ultimately prevent congressional certification of Joe Biden’s victory in the 2020 presidential election, and Loftus became one of the more than 750 people charged in the uprising. He pleaded guilty in October to the Capitol, “parading, striking or demonstrating in the Capitol building,” a misdemeanor.
At sentencing on Tuesday, the prosecutor claimed Loftus should spend 30 days in jail, in addition to three years of probation, 60 hours of community service and a $ 500 refund. The attack caused more than $ 1 million in damage to the Capitol.
Loftus’ federal public defender opposed jail time, citing other defendants who only entered the Capitol briefly and were not sentenced to prison.
U.S. District Judge Dabney Friedrich, who last week led the first jury trial of the uprising, agreed. During a virtual hearing, Friedrich said she had no authority to sentence both jail and probation for that petty crime, and sentenced Loftus to probation without jail or home jail. He is allowed to serve it in Eau Claire.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Emory Cole repeatedly claimed that Loftus was an “outlier” among Jan. 6 defendants convicted of misdemeanors. Cole said Loftus expressed pride in his actions and his words on social media were intended to encourage others to disrupt the democratic election process.
Cole called Loftus’ claim that he “stood up for all Americans” shocking and sad.
Friedrich noted that Loftus did not plan the capitulation, did not attack anyone or damaged property, had no weapons (other than a six-foot-tall American flag) and cooperated with the FBI when he was identified. If the government really thought he was a dissident, she said, it would not have agreed to him pleading guilty to a low-level crime.
“He’s not the first to say some outrageous things,” she said. “It’s hard to know if it’s just to win people over to the internet, or if it’s something more serious.”
According to court records in the case:
Loftus is depicted as he enters the Capitol via the upper western patio door around noon. 14.45. He is wearing a long green coat and two hats, a backpack and carrying an American flag on a 6-foot pole.
Loftus was among the first people identified. During an FBI interview in Eau Claire two days later, he admitted his actions and was arrested on January 11th. He was mentioned in a four-count indictment in February and pleaded guilty on October 19th.
More: 6 men from Wisconsin were charged in the Capitol uprising on January 6 in Washington, DC. Here’s the latest on their cases.
More: The January 6 attack on the US Capitol continues to divide us. Here’s how Wisconsin’s federal lawmakers saw it then, and look at it now
In its verdict, the government notes that even smaller participants like Loftus were mistakenly in the middle of a crime. Everyone who came in penetrated several barriers, ignoring police commands in the midst of the mob noise.
“No troublemaker was just a tourist that day,” the memo said.
Prosecutors noted Loftus’ lack of remorse, evidence from his bragging on social media that he was wanted by the FBI, and continued to share his feelings even after his arrest.
While it was free at release last summer, Loftus – under the name Zoso – sent a message to other users of the online gaming app. He said he was famous and a hero for his actions on January 6, and that he was not worried that he could not buy firearms while on probation because he already owns several. He posted a picture of himself with two assault rifles.
Another player warned the FBI, who visited Loftus and searched his home. They found no weapons and Loftus told them the pictures were old.
Loftus served six years in the Army. In his prayer, the judge praised this service, but called his actions on January 6 the opposite of patriotism. Prosecutors noted six other cases in which they recommended some prison sentences for military veterans, some of whom received probation.
One of them was Abram Markofski of La Crosse, who was an active member of the Wisconsin National Guard when he entered the Capitol. The prosecutor asked for 14 days in jail. He was sentenced to two years probation.
Prosecutors wrote that the court “should not ignore Loftus’ bombastic rhetoric, if not hubris, during the pending case,” noting that despite his guilty plea, he does not appear to be taking the case seriously.
In a letter Jan. 25 to Judge Friedrich, Loftus said he wanted to express remorse for his actions. “I lost the best job of my life, I’ve been shouted down in public, and I’ve had tremendous negative pressure.”
He said he has received help from the probation service and his lawyer.
“I have seen nothing but professionalism from everyone involved and my rights were their first priority. That fact had the biggest impact on me. It has changed the way I see the system 180 degrees,” he said.
He said he plans to stay away from politics and protests in the future.
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Contact Bruce Vielmetti at (414) 224-2187 or [email protected] Follow him on Twitter at @ProofHearsay.
This article originally appeared in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Eau Claire man escapes jail in sentencing for January 6 uprising