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'Loudmouth' Jan. 6 rioter who climbed Capitol wall gets four years in federal prison

Matthew Bledsoe's testimony at trial — that he didn't realize that Congress was certifying the 2020 election when he entered the Capitol — wasn't credible, a judge said.
Matthew Bledsoe at the Capitol in Washington, D.C.
Matthew Bledsoe at the Capitol in Washington, D.C. on Jan. 6, 2021.United States Attorney for the District of Columbia

WASHINGTON — A self-described "loudmouth" who stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 after climbing up a wall and entering the building through a door with a broken window as an alarm blared was sentenced to four years in federal prison on Friday.

Matthew Bledsoe of Tennessee, who said “Where are those pieces of s--- at?" as he entered the U.S. Capitol, was convicted by a jury in July after he failed to convince them that he was unaware that Congress was certifying the 2020 presidential election when he entered the building.

Chief U.S. District Judge Beryl Howell imposed the sentence on Friday, telling Bledsoe that his testimony was clearly false.

“You knew what was going on,” Howell said.

The government sought 70 months — more than 5.5 years in federal prison — for Bledsoe, saying that he "made self-serving statements that minimized his participation and conduct in the unprecedented attack on the Capitol."

But Howell said sentencing Bledsoe to 70 months, the guidelines' minimum for Bledsoe, would create a sentencing disparity with other Jan. 6 cases given his conduct that day, and instead sentenced Bledsoe to 48 months.

Before he was sentenced, Bledsoe apologized for "letting my emotions get the best of me" and said he regrets a lot of things that happened on Jan. 6.

Howell pointed to comments that were posted on a fundraiser for Bledsoe and said that Bledsoe was being sentenced not because of a biased justice system, but because of his criminal conduct on Jan. 6.

"I do view this as a very serious case, and you are facing serious prison time," Howell said.

"It's hard to reconcile the image of you today, Mr. Bledsoe, with the image of you on that tape," Howell said, adding that his words on video made clear that he knew what he was doing on Jan. 6.

"Your words, your actions, that day were clear," Howell said, noting it was hard for her to believe that when he joined a mob chanting "Nancy, Nancy" that he didn't realize that referenced House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Jamie Carter told Howell on Friday that it was still "very early on" in the Jan. 6 investigation, and said it was "not an unreasonable expectation" that the Justice Department will ultimately bring charges against more than 2,000 people in connection with Capitol attack, noting that government was recruiting to "get bodies" to bring the cases to fruition. The total number of individuals who either entered the U.S. Capitol or assaulted law enforcement officers outside is estimated at approximately 3,000.

More than 870 people have been arrested in connection with the U.S. Capitol attack, and more than 350 have been sentenced so far. The FBI has the names of hundreds of additional rioters who have not yet been arrested in connection with Jan. 6; another was arrested this week.