A federal judge on Tuesday sentenced a Burlington County man to 14 days behind bars for his actions at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.
Marcos Panayiotou, 30, of North Hanover Township, who was an active duty U.S. Marine until 2020, will serve the 14 days intermittently, a sentence that is usually served on weekends or other non-consecutive times, records show. Details of the timeframe were not immediately available.
The judge also sentenced Panayiotou to 36 months of probation. He pleaded guilty in August to parading, demonstrating or picketing in a U.S. Capitol building. Federal authorities arrested him at his home in December 2021.
Panayiotou, who currently works as an independent contractor for his father’s swimming pool lining company, said in a letter to the judge that he’s “paid a great price” for his conduct that day, which earned him a “scarlet letter that is this federal conviction.”
“I plan to tell my children and their grandchildren that I served the great military of this country for the freedoms of this amazing country and when I even exercised my right to protest, I entered the Capitol Building on January 6th without permission, with an enormous group and the harm caused, stained our country.
“And while I touched no one, broke nothing and left, that was not enough. I misjudged a moment in time by partaking in it and that hurt many,” he said in the letter.
Federal prosecutors argued for 45 days in prison for Panayiotou.
They portrayed him in pre-sentencing court papers as entering the Capitol about 10 minutes after supporters of former President Donald Trump rampaged their way inside. Panayiotou spent 39 minutes in the halls of Congress and was captured on security cameras standing at a window appearing to beckon other rioters to come inside.
He later discarded distinctive clothing he wore that day and deleted items from his cell phone. He was in Washington, D.C. that day with his mother and stepfather, but they did not enter the Capitol, court papers say.
After his arrest, Panayiotou violated the conditions of his release three times by testing positive for marijuana use, and prosecutors noted that federal authorities found a handgun on the nightstand in his bedroom during his arrest, for which he had illegal ammunition.
In October, Panayiotou pleaded guilty to a disorderly conduct charge related to the ammunition in in North Hanover Municipal Court and paid a $453 fine, records show.
Since his arrest, Panayiotou has shown remorse only for how his arrest has affected the life of himself and his family, and federal prosecutors said. And while his military service is laudable, it’s troubling in light of his Jan. 6 actions, they argued.
“His voluntary decision to storm a guarded government building is nothing short of shocking in light of his former military service and training,” prosecutors argued.
Panayiotou’s lawyer, in arguing for no time behind bars, said in court papers that Panayiotou is a, “regular guy,” who is disappointed in himself and whose friends and family are now acutely aware of his actions that day, due to the publicity of his arrest.
As for the gun, Panayiotou had a permit for it in Pennsylvania, the lawyer wrote.
“His life has dramatically changed since January 6th. He regrets going to Washington, D.C. What began as a trip to hear what he thought would be the President’s last speech turned into a mob taking control of the halls of Congress. Marcos Panayiotou went to hear the speech of ‘his President,’ that was his way of peacefully demonstrating.”
“On that trip,” his defense lawyer wrote, “Marcos Panayiotou, who had never been to the Capitol, was struck with a sense awe for the opulent history and the beauty of the buildings. After walking the corridors, he experienced no violence against others and returned home.”
Panayiotou is changed, the lawyer wrote, and no longer trusts the veracity of any news source, nor his own ability to “ferret through the conflicting information on social media.” Talking politics “makes him feel sick to his stomach.”
He struggles with normalcy in family relationships, and with U.S. Marines brethren, and moving on from “the biggest mistake of his life.”
The lawyer included a picture of Marcos Panayiotou on his wedding day, posing with his mother and bride, Marisa Panayiotou.
His wife also wrote a letter to the judge, saying it was she who shared video footage of her husband in the Capitol, and her friends reported it to law enforcement. She described her husband as a “great example of what a husband should look like” and she doesn’t know how she’d survive without him.
“Marcos is a good person, will be a great dad, and will forever be scarred by this conviction,” she wrote.
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