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Jan. 6 rioter from Pa. whose proceedings were secret made deal for a reduced sentence

In this image from court filings, Samuel Lazar, of Ephrata, is pictured outside the Capitol in Washington on Jan. 6, 2021. (U.S. Dept. of Justice Court Filings/TNS)

A Lancaster County man who was sentenced in secret for his role in the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol provided information to authorities in exchange for a shorter prison term, court documents unsealed this week reveal.

Samuel Lazar, 38, was charged in July 2021 for assaulting a police officer, obstructing law enforcement, and entering a restricted building after a trove of photos and images posted to social media helped prosecutors identify the Ephrata man as a participant in the violent mob.

Dressed in camouflage tactical gear, ski goggles and face paint, Lazar doused Capitol and D.C. Metro police officers with pepper spray as rioters pushed through an area barricaded by metal gates, court records show.

“They attacked the people,” Lazar later said to another person in a video cited in a criminal complaint. “We have a right to defend ourselves. (Expletive) the tyrants. There’s a time for peace and there’s a time for war.”

Until now, little was known about Lazar’s legal proceedings before a federal judge in Washington, D.C.

Records that would typically be made public detailing Lazar’s guilty plea and March sentencing to two and a half years in prison had been sealed at the request of prosecutors, even after Lazar was released from custody in September, the Associated Press reported Thursday.

It was unclear what information Lazar provided to federal prosecutors in exchange for a shortened sentence, but NBC News reported Wednesday that court documents stated it was “valuable information with respect to other Jan. 6 defendants.”

Lazar also agreed to testify in an unrelated murder case, the outlet reported.

Lazar’s lawyer did not immediately return a request for comment Friday. The lead U.S. attorney in the case declined to comment.

The documents show that Lazar admitted to spraying officers with a chemical irritant during the riot and using a bullhorn to urge rioters to steal guns from law enforcement officers who were attempting to protect the election proceedings.

For months, news outlets such as NBC News and the AP had urged the court to unseal Lazar’s case information, as most cases tied to the Jan. 6 attack have unfolded in public.

U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson briefly ordered those documents unsealed on Tuesday, though confusion over when lawyers had submitted documents for redaction led the court to remove the unsealed files from public view by Thursday, according to NBC News.

Court documents show that in early 2021, local FBI agents were tipped off to Lazar’s Facebook postings by someone who claimed to have known him for 28 years, though agents already possessed some information pointing to Lazar as a suspect.

And over the next six months, even as Lazar’s name and photo topped the FBI’s most-wanted list of insurrection suspects, more images continued to circulate, among them photos of him posing with prominent Pennsylvania GOP candidates like 2022 gubernatorial hopeful Doug Mastriano at a fundraiser, and a video of Lazar using a Donald Trump campaign sign as a battering ram to break police lines during the riot.

More than 1,200 people have been charged in relation to the Jan. 6 attack, and over 60 Pennsylvanians have been convicted for their actions during the riot.


© 2023 The Philadelphia Inquirer, LLC

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