Speed Reads

Jan. 6 trials

Jan. 6 rioter charged with stealing Nancy Pelosi's laptop and gavel sentenced to 3 years

A federal judge on Thursday sentenced Riley June Williams of Pennsylvania to three years in prison for her role in the Jan. 6, 2021, assault on the U.S. Capitol. Williams, 24, was convicted on six counts last November, including felony civil disorder and impeding officers trying to defend the Capitol, but the jury deadlocked on two other charges: obstruction of an official proceeding and "aiding and abetting" the theft  of a laptop taken from then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's office during the riot. 

Prosecutors said in a court filing that everywhere she went on Jan. 6, "Williams acted as an accelerant, exacerbating the mayhem." During her 90 minutes inside the Capitol, she handpicked large men wearing helmets and body armor and used them like a "human battering ram" to break through police lines and into Pelosi's office. Once inside the office, prosecutors said, she stole a gavel and "commanded and encouraged" others to steal the laptop, then "further instructed the rioter, 'Dude, put on gloves!'" 

Williams allegedly bragged online about stealing the laptop, gavel, and hard drives, and a witness who had been romantically involved with her told the FBI that Williams planned to send the laptop to a friend in Russia for sale to Russian intelligence. Williams then erased her phone and used commercial-grade software to wipe her laptop, successfully blocking investigators from accessing text messages and social media posts, prosecutors said, noting: "To date, neither the laptop nor the gavel has been recovered."

Williams said Thursday that she had been "addicted to the internet" before the riot and was seeking validation from family and peers, adding, "I barely recognize the stupid girl who was yelling at police." Judge Amy Berman Jackson rejected that argument, describing Williams as acting "like a coxswain on a crew team" during the riot, directing rioters "from the minute she got in." Williams "was not just a little waif blowing in the wind," she added. 

Prosecutors had sought a sentence of seven years and three months for Williams, noting her "obsession" with white nationalist Nick Fuentes and his Groyper Army. Her lawyers had asked for a year and a day. Along with the three years in prison, Jackson also sentenced Williams to three years of supervised release afterward, ordered her to pay $2,000 in restitution, and said contact with Fuentes or other political figures would be considered a violation of her release terms.