Army veteran gets over four years in prison for Capitol riot role


A jailed member of the Proud Boys extremist group was sentenced on Friday to more than four years in prison for his role in a mob’s attack on the U.S. Capitol three years ago, court records show.

William Chrestman, a U.S. Army veteran from Olathe, Kansas, brandished an axe handle and threated police with violence after leading other Proud Boys members to the perimeter of the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.

Chrestman pleaded guilty in October to obstructing the Jan. 6 joint session of Congress for certifying the Electoral College vote. He also pleaded guilty to a second felony count of threatening to assault a federal officer during the Capitol riot.

U.S. District Judge Timothy Kelly sentenced Chrestman to four years and seven months in prison, according to court records.

Prosecutors had recommended a prison sentence of five years and three months, arguing that he “played a significant role during the riot due to his presence and conduct at pivotal moments during the day.”

“Indeed, Chrestman regularly presented himself as a leader among the rioters including when he was part of the tip of the spear that created the breach at the Peace Circle, encouraged other rioters to move to the police barricades, told rioters to stop the arrest of a rioter, and thanked them for supporting the Proud Boys,” prosecutors wrote.

Chrestman has been jailed since his arrest in February 2021. He’ll get credit for the nearly three years he already has served in custody.

Defense attorney Michael Cronkright argued that Chrestman never used his axe handle “to do anything remotely violent” on Jan. 6.

“To date, the worst thing that the government has asserted is that he used it to touch a security gate that was already going up,” Cronkright wrote.

Chrestman also had a gas mask, a helmet and other tactical gear when he traveled to Washington with other Proud Boys members from the Kansas City, Kansas, area. On Jan. 6, he marched to the Capitol grounds with dozens of other Proud Boys leaders, members and associates.

Chrestman and other Proud Boys moved past a toppled metal barricade and joined other rioters in front of another police barrier. He shouted a threat at officers and yelled at others in the crowd to stop police from arresting another rioter, according to prosecutors.

Facing the crowd, Chrestman shouted, “Whose house is this?”

“Our house!” the crowd replied.

“Do you want your house back?” Chrestman asked.

“Yes!” the crowd responded.

“Take it!” Chrestman yelled.

Chrestman also pointed his finger at a line of Capitol police officers, gestured at them with his axe handle and threatened to assault them if they fired “pepper ball” rounds at the crowd of rioters, according to a court filing accompanying his guilty plea.

Also on Friday, a man who briefly ran an unsuccessful campaign for governor of Oregon after storming the Capitol was sentenced to nearly four years in prison. Reed Knox Christensen, 65, charged at a group of police officers outside the Capitol and assaulted five of them before rioters breached the police line, prosecutors said.

Christensen captured less than 1% of the votes cast in Oregon’s May 2022 Republican primary for the governor’s race. Prosecutors said he used the campaign “to obtain free publicity and brag about his participation in the riot.”

Christensen also wrote a self-published book about his “experiences prior to and including January 6,” according to his attorney, Troy Nixon.

U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth sentenced Christensen, an engineer from Hillsboro, Oregon, to three years and 10 months in prison, court records show.

More than 1,200 people have been charged with Capitol riot-related federal crimes. About 900 of them have pleaded guilty or been convicted after trials decided by a jury or judge. Over 750 of them have been sentenced, with nearly 500 receiving some term of imprisonment, according to data compiled by The Associated Press.

Dozens of Proud Boys leaders, members and associates have been arrested on Jan. 6 charges. The group’s former national chairman, Enrique Tarrio, was sentenced to 22 years in prison — the longest for a Capitol riot case so far. A jury convicted Tarrio and three lieutenants of seditious conspiracy charges for a failed plot to keep Donald Trump in power after the Republican lost the 2020 election.

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