WASHINGTON, D.C. — Federal prosecutors this week asked a judge to impose a 45-day jail sentence on the Glens Falls resident who admitted last fall to taking part in the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.
His defense is seeking no jail time, and instead probation, according to its own filing.
Prosecutors contend that a jail term is appropriate and warranted for James Bonet for Bonet smoking what appeared to be marijuana in a senator’s private office, broadcasting it on social media, and due to his social media postings showing his unlawful presence in the Capitol and for Bonet bypassing numerous red flags that told him to turn back.
“In a deeply misguided effort to ‘tak[e] our country back,’ Bonet, after posting a video calling police ‘pieces of [expletive],’ seeing a rioter fight with police, and watching a woman being carried away on a stretcher, breached the Capitol and celebrated this perceived accomplishment by filming himself smoking a joint inside a Senator’s office that was trashed during the riot,” prosecutors wrote.
Bonet’s defense attorney, however, seeking probation for Bonet, wrote that his client “fell prey to false information circulated throughout social media sites regarding voter fraud and those in power who questioned the legitimacy of the election.”
“He deeply regrets his decision to ‘follow the crowd,'” Bonet’s defense wrote. “More importantly, he regrets his act of disrespect and arrogance by lighting up a marijuana cigarette inside the most impressive symbol of American democracy.”
In his October plea, Bonet, 30, formally admitted to entering and remaining in a restricted building or grounds, a misdemeanor.
He faces up to a year in jail at his Feb. 10 sentencing, though guidelines suggest a term of between no jail time and six months, officials said.
Ahead of that sentencing, both sides filed their arguments on what they believe Bonet should receive. Prosecutors filed theirs Monday, Bonet’s defense late last month.
He pleaded guilty in a hearing presided over by Judge Emmet G. Sullivan. Sullivan is to determine Bonet’s final term at sentencing.
Bonet remains free pending sentencing.
Bonet formally admitted that he entered the Capitol at about 3:09 p.m. Jan. 6 through the Senate wing doors while saying “we’re taking it back, we’re taking it back, we made it in the building,” a prosecutor read at the hearing.
He then went to the offices of U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley and smoked a marijuana joint, the prosecutor recounted. Then, approximately 17 minutes later, he left the Capitol building.
In the prosecution’s filing, Assistant U.S. Attorney Alexis Loeb cited Bonet’s conduct alongside the many others charged that day, noting the numbers were what allowed them to overwhelm law enforcement, breach the Capitol and disrupt the proceedings.
“But for his actions alongside so many others, the riot likely would have failed,” Loeb wrote. “Here, the defendant’s participation in a riot that actually succeeded in halting the Congressional certification combined with the defendant’s celebration of the riot, including by taking a selfie video of himself smoking a joint in the private office of a member of Congress, renders a jail sentence both necessary and appropriate.”
Bonet defense attorney Lisa A. Peebles argued Bonet had no intention of storming the Capitol. He no longer uses marijuana and is now attending college, she wrote.
She wrote that by the time he got close to the building, the police had already been overwhelmed. He regrets his actions, including smoking marijuana there, she wrote.
“However, he learned a valuable lesson that has help springboard his life in a positive, productive direction. His rehabilitative efforts have been extraordinary,” Peebles wrote.
Bonet is among more than 700 people have been arrested in the attack and 350 others are still being sought by the FBI, including 250 of whom are accused of assaulting police officers. Brandon Fellows, 27, of Schenectady, is also among those charged. His case remains pending.