A Florida man prosecutors say is affiliated with the Proud Boys extremist group was sentenced on Friday to five years in prison for attacking police officers with pepper spray as they tried to defend the U.S. Capitol against supporters of President Donald Trump on Jan. 6, 2021.
Barry Ramey, an aircraft mechanic who was convicted of assault and other crimes in federal court in Washington, D.C., also tried to intimidate an FBI agent investigating him before his arrest. Ramey anonymously called the agent and recited the agent’s home address over the phone, prosecutors say.
Ramey has been locked up since his April 2022 arrest. His attorney wrote in court documents that Ramey “has understood the gravity of his actions and is ready for a change with support standing by to help him through it.”
There was no immediate response Friday to an email sent to his attorney seeking comment.
Prosecutors say Ramey joined a large group of Proud Boys on the morning of Jan. 6 before heading toward the Capitol, where lawmakers were meeting to certify President Joe Biden’s election victory over Trump. As another rioter charged a police line, Ramey lifted his arm and began spraying, hitting two officers, according to prosecutors.
After the officers were sprayed, rioters managed to push past the police line and up the stairs toward the Capitol, authorities say.
“Like an attacker who holds a pillow over a victim’s head while the victim is assaulted, Ramey’s spray was capable of making officers just as vulnerable to attack,” prosecutors wrote in court papers.
Ramey’s lawyer noted in court documents that her client didn’t enter the Capitol, steal anything or “remain defiant following January 6th—as many have done.” His attorney disputed prosecutors’ characterization of Ramey as a member of the Proud Boys on Jan. 6. She said there’s no evidence he was part of any chats that “planned a coup on democratic government” or came to Washington prepared to stop the certification of the vote.
“There is a marked difference between those who came prepared that day for violence, planned for it, advocated for it, and enlisted others to carry it out versus those who came to support their candidate, and were egged on by more nefarious forces and conducted themselves in a criminal manner,” defense attorney Farheena Siddiqui wrote.
A slew of Proud Boys leaders, members and associates have been charged with federal crimes in the riot. Former Proud Boys national chairman Enrique Tarrio and three other leaders were convicted in May of seditious conspiracy for what authorities said was a plot to halt the transfer of power from Trump to Biden.
Also on Friday, another Florida man — who authorities say came to Washington with a militia group called Guardians of Freedom — was sentenced in a separate case to five months behind bars for his role in the riot, according to court documents.
Authorities say Jonathan Rockholt came to the Capitol with a tactical vest and helmet, joined other rioters in pushing against police in a tunnel and stole an officer’s riot shield. Rockholt pleaded guilty to civil disorder and theft of government property.
Rockholt’s lawyer said in court papers that during the riot, the man was “caught up in the moment cheering for Trump” and “didn’t intentionally” contribute to the heave-ho pushing of officers but was being pushed himself by the crowd around him.
“As for the shield, Mr. Rockholt offers no excuse for that lapse of judgment,” attorney Vincent Citro wrote.
In an email on Friday, Citro said the judge imposed “an appropriate sentence based on the facts and circumstances.”
More than 1,000 people have been charged in that Capitol attack. Over 600 of them have pleaded guilty, while approximately 100 others have been convicted after trials decided by judges or juries. More than 550 riot defendants have been sentenced, with over half receiving terms of imprisonment ranging from six days to 18 years.
Associated Press reporter Michael Kunzelman in Silver Spring, Maryland contributed.