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Virginia couple sentenced to probation on Capitol riot charge

"I seriously considered putting you in jail," the judge told Jessica Bustle.
Joshua Bustle and Jessica Bustle, a husband and wife who pleaded guilty to misdemeanor charges in the Jan. 6 Capitol riot.
Joshua Bustle and Jessica Bustle, a husband and wife who pleaded guilty to misdemeanor charges in the Jan. 6 Capitol riot.U.S. Attorney's Office

WASHINGTON — A husband and wife from Virginia were sentenced Wednesday in one of the first cases that featured only misdemeanor charges stemming from the Jan. 6 Capitol riot.

Joshua and Jessica Bustle of Bristow, Virginia, were charged with illegally entering the Capitol, remaining inside for about 20 minutes, then leaving. They did not engage in any violent behavior or damage any property.

Both were sentenced to two years of probation and 40 hours of community service. Both were also sentenced to home confinement: 30 days for him and 60 days for her, based in part on comments she made supporting the rioters afterward.

"I seriously considered putting you in jail," U.S. District Court Judge Thomas Hogan said.

Prosecutors said the couple has already suffered "personal and reputational consequences" as a result of their participation. Joshua Bustle said he was no longer able to sell real estate, for example, and the couple plans to move “to start a new life.” He said their participation in the Capitol siege strained relations with family members.

But the government also said some period of confinement would help discourage similar behavior in the future.

"A riot cannot occur without rioters, and each rioter's actions — from the most mundane to the most violent — contributed, directly and indirectly, to the violence and destruction that day," prosecutors said.

Hogan said their case was different, however, because they came to Washington to participate in an anti-vaccine protest, not to participate in an effort to block Congress from counting the electoral vote.

After the riot, Jessica Bustle posted a message on social media saying the election was stolen and that she was proud of the people who entered the Capitol "for standing up." But she told the judge during Wednesday's sentencing hearing that she no longer believed that.

"With the perspective of things that I've seen that have taken place, no, your honor, I don't agree with that," she said. "The violence and stuff like that I wasn't aware of because I didn't see any of those things going on."

An Indiana woman was the first to be sentenced on misdemeanor charges for her participation in the riot. Anna Morgan-Lloyd was sentenced in June to three years of probation and ordered to perform 120 hours of community service and pay $500 in restitution.

CORRECTION (Aug. 4, 2021, 9:05 p.m. ET): A previous version of this article misstated when Anna Morgan-Lloyd was sentenced. It was in June, not July.