WASHINGTON — A self-described "idiot" who stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6 and stole a wallet and a framed photo of the late civil rights icon Rep. John Lewis from then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's office was sentenced to more than four years in federal prison on Friday.
Kevin Lyons, a 40-year-old father from Chicago, was previously found guilty of a felony count of obstruction of an official proceeding along with disorderly and disruptive conduct in a restricted building and entering and remaining in a restricted building.
U.S. District Judge Beryl Howell sentenced Lyons to 51 months — four years and three months — in federal prison, saying that it was very rare for her to have a defendant appear before her who described their childhood as "perfect," as Lyons did. Lyons has "no excuse" for his conduct, she said.
Howell said it was absurd that Lyons joined the mob in heckling officers — calling them “f---ing Nazi bastards!” and “SS!” — given that the attack on the U.S. Capitol was "about the most fascistic" thing she'd seen.
"It was the mob that was more like the Nazis and the fascists that day," Howell said, saying it was "bizarrely ironic" for Lyons to refer to officers as Nazis "when the shoe is on the other foot."
Lyons recorded himself as he stole a wallet with around $150 in cash from a staff member's jacket. The framed photograph he stole was a gift given to Pelosi about two months after Lewis' death, federal prosecutors said. It showed Pelosi, D-Calif., and Lewis, D-Ga., — who was a member of the Freedom Riders, spoke during the 1963 March on Washington and had his skull fractured by an Alabama state trooper as he tried to march across a bridge in Selma in 1965 — at what used to be known as the "Door of No Return” at Elmina Castle in Ghana. As Assistant U.S. Attorney Sean McCauley said Friday, "countess Africans passed through" that door en route to their enslavement.
"Lyons left the Capitol via an Uber before traveling back to the Chicago," federal prosecutors wrote in a sentencing memo. "That night he texted some friends a picture of the stolen photograph with an admission that he took the photograph. He then bragged, 'I’m pretty confident I am now a multiple Federal felon.' The photograph was never recovered."
Lyons spoke to the judge before his sentencing, explaining why he owed thousands of dollars in child support (Judge Howell said he should have been working to pay what he owed instead of traveling to Washington, D.C., and joining a riot on Jan. 6) and saying that he had "a lot of shame" for what he did during the Capitol attack.
"I'm a pretty eccentric person, you might be able to tell," Lyons said, gesticulating at the podium. "I let the crowd and the mob and stuff kind of take over me. ... It's insane, I can't believe it." He said he was sorry for the impact that his crimes had on his 16-year-old and 13-year-old sons.
“I’m an idiot, I realize that,” Lyons said. “I was stupid. I don’t know what came over me. ... I apologize to you, the country and my family."
More than 1,000 people have been charged in connection with the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, and at least 335 have received sentences of incarceration. The Justice Department said in a statement this month that its resolve to hold Jan. 6 defendants accountable "has not, and will not, wane," and online sleuths had identified hundreds of additional rioters who have not been arrested.