Prosecutors will ask a judge to sentence Robert Thomas Snow of Heber Springs to 14 days in jail for illegally entering the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, according to a motion filed Tuesday in federal court in the District of Columbia.
Snow's attorney, Christopher Macchiaroli, wrote that he was "frankly shocked" to learn in an email Tuesday from Assistant U.S. Attorney Alison Prout that the government would be seeking jail time for his client, who has pleaded guilty to a "petite misdemeanor" for parading, demonstrating or picketing in a Capitol Building.
Snow, 78, has cooperated with investigators, has no prior criminal history and has serious health issues, wrote Macchiaroli.
"At sentencing, undersigned counsel will request -- in accordance with the law (see 18 U.S.C. § 3553(a)) -- that Mr. Snow be sentenced consistent with his history and characteristics and how other similarly situated defendants have been sentenced," wrote Macchiaroli.
Federal prosecutors have come under fire for pursuing only misdemeanor charges and not seeking jail time for many of the low-level Jan. 6 defendants, according to The Washington Post. Some federal judges have questioned whether the no-prison plea deals are too lenient to deter future attackers from terrorizing members of Congress.
But after a bench trail in April, U.S. District Judge Trevor McFadden acquitted Matthew Martin of New Mexico of all four misdemeanor charges against him, saying it was possible to believe outnumbered police officers allowed Martin to enter the Capitol building.
McFadden, who was nominated by former President Donald Trump, said Martin's actions were "about as minimal and non-serious" as anyone who was at the Capitol that day, according to National Public Radio.
Snow's case is assigned to District Judge Timothy J. Kelly, who was also appointed by Trump.
In Tuesday's motion, Macchiaroli asked the judge to conduct Snow's July 7 sentencing hearing by videoconference instead of requiring everyone to travel to Washington. Prout, who is based in Atlanta, has consented to a remote hearing, Macchiaroli wrote. Late Wednesday afternoon, Kelly granted the request for the July 7 sentencing hearing to be held by videoconference.
Concerning Prout's email about seeking a very brief period of incarceration, Macchiaroli wrote in Tuesday's motion, "Frankly shocked and extremely tempted to respond now at length, undersigned counsel simply states that he looks forward to appearing before this court at Mr. Snow's sentencing to discuss in extensive detail Mr. Snow's extraordinary life and immediate and sincere acceptance of responsibility for entering and exiting the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021."
Macchiaroli cited a U.S. Probation report: "This is the defendant's first arrest and conviction. He is a 78-year-old married man, who served in the armed forces, has extensive work history, and has no history of drug use. Mr. Snow has serious financial constraints and serious medical issues, including being legally blind in one eye. Mr. Snow is awaiting resolution of this matter to undertake necessary medical procedures. Furthermore, he is the caretaker of his son and designated guardian. Lastly, Mr. Snow admitted to the instant offense and cooperated fully with law enforcement during multiple meetings of the investigation. The defendant was inside the U.S. Capitol, for a brief period, he did not assault or threaten anyone and did not steal or deface any property."
On Jan. 4, Snow voluntarily surrendered to the FBI after a warrant was issued for his arrest on four misdemeanor charges, according to Macchiaroli. Snow appeared before a magistrate judge in federal court in Little Rock and released on his personal recognizance. He has remained free ever since.
On March 24, Snow entered a guilty plea to one count of parading, demonstrating or picketing in a Capitol Building in violation of 40 U.S.C § 5104(e)(2)(G), which carries a maximum period of incarceration of six months, according to Macchiaroli. At the conclusion of that proceeding, Snow was permitted to remain on his personal recognizance.
Snow is the only one of Arkansas' four Capitol riot defendants who has pleaded guilty.
Richard "Bigo" Barnett, 61, of Gravette, and Peter Francis Stager, 42, of Conway, face felony charges in connection with the riot. Jon Thomas Mott, 38, of Yellville, faces only misdemeanor charges.
The Jan. 6 riot escalated from a "Stop the Steal" rally. Supporters of former President Donald Trump entered the Capitol and attempted to stop Congress from certifying the Electoral College vote indicating that Joe Biden had won the presidential election.