Ex-cop who testified against friend avoids prison for Jan. 6

FILE - Insurrectionists loyal to President Donald Trump breach the Capitol in Washington, Jan....
FILE - Insurrectionists loyal to President Donald Trump breach the Capitol in Washington, Jan. 6, 2021. Former Rocky Mount Police Sgt. Thomas Robertson who stormed the U.S. Capitol with a fellow officer was sentenced Thursday, Aug. 11, 2022, to more than seven years in prison, matching the longest prison sentence so far among hundreds of Capitol riot cases.(John Minchillo | AP Photo/John Minchillo, File)
Published: Aug. 16, 2022 at 12:09 PM CDT
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(AP) - A former Virginia police officer who testified against a friend and former supervisor he joined at the Capitol in the Jan. 6 insurrection avoided prison time on Tuesday for his role in it.

Former Rocky Mount Police Officer Jacob Fracker pleaded guilty to conspiring with his fellow officer to obstruct Congress from certifying Joe Biden’s 2020 election victory over then-President Donald Trump and was sentenced to one year of probation, with 59 days in home confinement.

Prosecutors did not seek prison time for Fracker, pointing to his substantial cooperation and trial testimony against former Rocky Mount Police Sgt. Thomas Robertson. Fracker’s cooperation came at “great personal cost,” prosecutors said, noting that Robertson was not only Fracker’s colleague but also a father figure he sometimes referred to as “dad.”

Robertson, an Army veteran who was convicted by a jury of attacking the Capitol to obstruct Congress from certifying the Electoral College vote on Jan. 6, 2021, was sentenced last week to more than seven years behind bars. That matches the longest prison sentence so far among hundreds of Capitol riot cases.

Fracker, a Marine Corps veteran, told jurors that Robertson had invited him to Washington, D.C., to see Trump speak. The two off-duty officers traveled to Washington in the morning with a third man and donned gas masks as they approached the Capitol and joined the mob of rioters.

During his sentencing hearing in federal court in Washington, Fracker apologized for his actions.

“Yes, I was there with someone else. Yes, I was there because I trusted him based on lies, but he didn’t tell me how to act that day. I acted on my own, and for that I apologize,” Fracker told the judge.

Prosecutors said they wouldn’t have known that Robertson destroyed two cellphones containing incriminating videos and photos taken on Jan. 6 without Fracker’s cooperation. His testimony also helped prosecutors “establish Robertson’s corrupt intent” to obstruct the congressional proceeding without having to rely on Robertson’s social media postings, prosecutors wrote.

Fracker is the first Jan. 6 defendant to be sentenced for a conspiracy conviction and the first defendant to be sentenced after getting a cooperation deal with prosecutors.

Rocky Mount, a town of roughly 5,000 residents about a four-hour drive southwest of Washington, fired Robertson and Fracker after the deadly riot.

Robertson and Fracker are among roughly 850 people who have been charged with federal crimes for their conduct on Jan. 6. More than 350 of them have pleaded guilty, mostly to misdemeanor offenses, and more than 230 have been sentenced.

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Follow AP’s coverage related to the Jan. 6 insurrection at https://apnews.com/hub/capitol-siege.

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