According to recently filed court documents, federal authorities have sought a 46-month prison sentence for one East Helena brother who participated in the January 6, 2021 riot in Washington, DC, and 51 months for the other.
The government has demanded that Joshua Hughes, 38, not only be sentenced to almost four years in prison but also that he undergo three years of supervised release and $2,000 in damages plus a mandatory $100 special assessment pays.
Authorities are asking for four years and three months in prison for Jerod Hughes, 37, plus three years supervised release, $2,000 in compensation and a mandatory $100 special assessment.
The sentencing is in the middle of counseling guidelines, according to court filings.
“A 46-month sentence reflects the seriousness of Joshua Hughes’ conduct while also recognizing his early admission of guilt,” they wrote.
On Jan. 6, 2021, the brothers were part of a mob of supporters of former President Donald Trump who broke into the Capitol to contest confirmation of the Electoral College vote that would nominate Democrat Joe Biden as president. Trump falsely claimed he won the election. The U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia said the brothers “lead the spear” that day and “actively participated in the destruction of government property,” harassed and obstructed Capitol police, and obstructed a joint session of Congress.
The Hughes brothers were among a group who smashed down windows and doors to get into the Capitol, according to federal court documents.
The brothers turned themselves in to authorities upon their return to Montana and were initially jailed in early 2021. They pleaded not guilty and were released from custody on their own initiative. The brothers pleaded guilty on August 25 to obstructing an official arraignment process. At one time they faced nine offenses.
Officials determined that as of January 6, 2021, more than 100 law enforcement officers were injured and more than $2.8 million in damage was incurred. Authorities note that some of the losses on the day are “incalculable”.
The sentencing memoranda were filed Nov. 15 in US District Court in the District of Columbia, where the brothers recently pleaded guilty over the phone with Judge Timothy J. Kelly.
The judge has requested that the brothers come to Washington DC for sentencing on November 22nd.
Joshua Hughes asked the court on Nov. 15 to sentence him to a four-year suspended sentence with conditions, including community service, for time served. He said that if the court was “inclined to give him a prison sentence,” he could put himself in the Bureau of Prison’s SeaTac facility in Seattle.
As of late Friday afternoon, no such request had been made by Jerod Hughes. Kelly on Friday ordered Jerod Hughes to file a sentencing memorandum by November 19 or the court would not sentence him on November 22.
Federal authorities said in the memorandums that the brothers advanced through a violent crowd on the western front and climbed scaffolding on the northwest steps to get past the crowd and advance even further.
They said they pushed up the stairs to the front of the rioters to break through the very last line of police protecting the Capitol. They saw the rioters smash windows.
Of Joshua Hughes, they said, “He eagerly jumped through the broken window to become the ninth rioter that day to occupy the US Capitol.”
He then approached Jerod, who had kicked open the Senate wing door to let in hundreds of rioters.
The brothers then roamed the hallways threatening police and chasing Eugene Goodman, a Capitol Police officer, according to the memorandum. Authorities said Jerod Hughes then shouted threats at the police guarding the Senate chamber. Joshua and Jerod Hughes led the group advancing up the police line, and they folded their arms as they advanced.
“Behind us is a f—— army! You guys don’t want that! You don’t want that f——!” and “We’re f—— crazy,” Jerod Hughes reportedly said.
He reportedly texted friends a few minutes later: “We broke into the capital.”
Authorities said the brothers then went into the Senate chambers and watched as other rioters checked “sensitive documents” left behind by senators who were forced to flee.
Joshua Hughes threw his cellphone in the trash when he learned he was wanted by the FBI, authorities said in the memorandum.
The brothers drove nearly 2,150 miles from Helena to Washington, DC beginning January 3 and spent the night in Gaithersburg, Maryland on January 5.
Joshua Hughes received an email from his girlfriend on Jan. 5, warning him that the rally he was going to attend could be “extremely violent,” according to a cellphone screenshot.
She said she hoped he would stay safe.
“…and remember, I don’t want a partner who engages in violence,” she wrote.
Joshua Hughes responded, but only to say he made it to Maryland, authorities said.
Joshua Hughes said in a memorandum to the court filed by his attorney that he never felt the need to set foot on the Capitol, nor did he plan to, he just wanted to see what was going on.
He denies pushing his way through the line of Capitol Police officers, but followed the crowd and worked his way to the front of the line to “see what was going on.”
Joshua Hughes argues he was shocked by what happened when he left.
“My God, what have we done?” he thought.
He said he knew he was wrong to be there, felt misled by Trump and “deeply regretted” his actions there.
The response to the memorandum states that he was arrested and transported to Washington, DC on February 1, 2021 and was detained for 68 days before being released on April 7, 2021.
Hughes and his attorney, Palmer Hoovestal, said Hughes contracted COVID-19 while traveling through Oklahoma and was under a 24-hour lockdown. They state that he complied 100% with the terms of his release.
“The benchmark for imprisonment is greater than necessary in these facts and circumstances,” Hoovestal wrote.
His memorandum contained several letters to Judge Kelly in support of Joshua Hughes.
One was from an employer, Belva Lotzer, owner of Tizer Botanic Garden & Arboretum, who said Joshua approached her shortly after returning from Washington, D.C. and told her he was “in serious trouble” and was getting up FBI’s most wanted list.
Wanting her to know so she wouldn’t be alarmed, he gave her the opportunity to fire him.
Lotzer said Joshua has been a house cleaner for them for the past three years and does his job efficiently and helps out with other chores.
“Josh is a young man of strong character and old-fashioned values, a person I wish my grandchildren and co-workers would emulate,” she wrote.
Lotzer said she understands the seriousness of the charges.
“I think he was in the wrong place at the wrong time,” she said. “That’s not who he is.”
There were about a dozen such letters from friends and family members.
In the 22 months since Jan. 6, 2021, nearly 900 people have been arrested in nearly all 50 states for crimes related to the U.S. Capitol break-in, including over 275 people charged with assault or obstruction of law enforcement, the said US Attorney’s Office.
The investigations are ongoing.