A U.S. Army veteran who participated in the breach of the U.S. Capitol building on Jan. 6, 2021 has received one of the harshest sentences of any of the hundreds of defendants charged in the incident.
James Mault, 30, of Fayetteville, N.C., was sentenced on Friday to 44 months in prison plus three years of supervised release for pepper spraying a police officer in a tunnel leading into the Capitol Building from the Lower West Terrace. According to Charlotte Observer, Mault’s sentence is one the harshest stemming from the chaos at the capitol. The Washington Post reported only four other individuals have received longer sentences for their involvement in the Jan. 6 storming.
Mault previously served as an Army combat engineer, was stationed at Fort Bragg and served in Kuwait. Mault was reportedly fired from his job at an ironworks in New York after the Jan. 6, incident and he later re-enlisted in the Army in May of 2021.
The FBI began questioning Mault after Jan. 6, but did not immediately charge him.
According to The Washington Post, the Army has said it was not aware Mault was being investigated when the service accepted him back into the ranks. Mault was serving at Fort Bragg at the time of his arrest.
Mault pled guilty to the charges against him in April, alongside Cody Mattice, 29, of Greece, N.Y.,
During his sentencing hearing, Mault and Mattice apologized and asked for leniency in their sentences.
“My friends and I went to the Capitol on Jan. 6 with the best intentions,” Mault said. “What happened was our protest got terribly out of hand, I fell into the mob mentality, and I didn’t think about what I was doing.”
“Those police officers did not deserve what happened to them,” Mault also said. “As a soldier … I should have known better.”
U.S. District Judge Beryl A. Howell decided prosecutors had already shown Mault and Mattice enough leniency by dropping other charges and Howell instead imposed the full sentence prosecutors requested at the sentencing hearing.
In the days before the Jan. 6, 2021 storming, Mault and Mattice had sent several text messages discussing bringing pepper spray and batons to the Capitol as well as helmets, eye protection and “asskicking boots.” The text messages reportedly revealed Mault, Mattice, and others were preparing to defend against attacks from Antifa activists. The pair also sent messages to family members during the chaos on Jan. 6 and congratulated each other on their involvement in the days after the storming.
Howell read some of the messages Mault and Mattice sent in the courtroom and said the messages showed that even after the storming, Mault and Mattice “maintained some form of delusional belief that they were the patriots.”
“They were not patriots on January 6, and no one who broke the police lines and stopped the democratic process were,” Howell added. “They were criminals.”