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Decorated Vietnam vet from PA fined for Capitol breach, avoids prison

A gavel rests on the judges bench in Carbon County Courtroom #1. (Kevin Mingora/TMC/TNS)

A Vietnam veteran from McKean County, Pa. who joined the pro-Trump protesters with a friend to storm the U.S. Capitol was sentenced this week to pay $1,000 but avoided any confinement or other punishment.

U.S. District Judge Trevor McFadden ordered William Blauser, 75, of Ludlow, to pay a $500 fine and another $500 in restitution.

Blauser, a Purple Heart recipient and the commander of his American Legion post, was charged along with Pauline Bauer, a restaurant owner seen on video screaming for police to bring out “that f— bitch” — Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi.

Her case is pending, but Blauser pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor count of parading in a Capitol building.

“I was caught up in something I truly regret,” he wrote to the judge. “If I had a chance to redeem myself, I would certainly do that in a heartbeat. All I can do is sincerely apologize to my country and the court for my actions.”

Blauser drove with Bauer to Washington to attend the Trump rally.

They walked to the Capitol with the crowd and then passed police to enter the building. Video showed them scuffling with officers.

Blauser is seen lowering his shoulder into an officer in an attempt to protect Bauer.

The prosecutor, James Peterson, said Blauser made physical contact with police trying to clear the building and spent 40 minutes inside the Capitol.

But he also said Blauser was trying to help his friend.

“He restrained his fellow rioter, Pauline Bauer, twice when she very aggressively confronted police officers in the Rotunda and demanded that someone be hanged,” Mr. Peterson said.

He also took note of Blauser’s history. He served in Vietnam from 1965 to 1969 and received a Purple Heart and a decoration for valor.

While applauding Blauser’s service to his country, Mr. Peterson said his status as a veteran makes his actions troubling.

“As a former United States Navy service member,” he said, “Blauser knew that one’s disagreement with the actions of government officials does not bestow a right to enter restricted government buildings.”

But he said, “this is the rare case where the mitigating factors of the defendant’s age, poor health and military service in Vietnam counsel strongly against a sentence of incarceration.”

He asked for home detention instead of jail.

Blauser’s lawyer, Rammy Barbari, asked for probation, saying his client is a devout Christian with no criminal history who fought for the U.S. and came home wounded.

Blauser graduated from high school in Kane, enlisted in the Navy and served multiple tours in Vietnam. On his final tour he was aboard a River Division troop carrier in April 1969 when it came under attack. He suffered a wound above his eye, wounds in both legs and a broken bone.

After the war he went to work at Affiliated Industries for 20 years and then as a mailman until he retired in 2004 with health issues.

Mr. Barbari said Blauser’s behavior during the storming was a mistake in an otherwise exemplary life.

“He sacrificed his mental and physical wellbeing to fight for the United States in Vietnam, a sacrifice his mind and body still pay for to this day,” he said. “On January 6, 2021, however, Mr. Blauser made one of the worst choices he has ever made, and he feels extreme remorse for his actions. He knows he cannot undo what he has done.”

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(c) 2022 the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

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