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Images from the complaint against James Bonet of Glens Falls.
This is a photo provided with the federal complaint against William Tryon of Selkirk, who faces three misdemeanors in connection with insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.
ALBANY – It remains a notoriously dark day in American history.
On Jan. 6. 2021, more than 2,000 supporters of then-President Donald Trump stormed the U.S. Capitol as federal lawmakers prepared to certify President Joseph Biden’s victory from the prior November. It has impacted lives across the country ever since — including six people in the Capital Region who were charged for their actions that day.
Three of the defendants have pending cases, including a pair of siblings. Two others have pleaded guilty. And a fifth is serving a 20-year prison sentence after being convicted of stabbing two members of the far right Proud Boys during a confrontation outside the state Capitol in Albany.
Here is where the cases stand:
James Bonet, 31, of Glens Falls, was arrested after his co-workers in a Saratoga Springs fast food eatery spotted images of Bonet smoking pot on a senator’s desk inside the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. They were more than familiar with Bonet and the conspiracies he spread at work.
For instance, Bonet was claiming that Trump won the 2020 election but it was “stolen.” He posted on social media that COVID-19 was a hoax. And Bonet claimed in another conspiracy theory that the government was “trying to hide a species of alien lizard people who live underground,” prosecutors said in a memo to the judge who would sentence Bonet.
Bonet’s co-workers informed the FBI, who tracked down Bonet and arrested him. Bonet had provided no shortage of evidence by his own words on social media. He had been in the Capitol for 17 minutes,
“We made it in the building bitches! We’re taking it back! We are taking it back, we made it in the building!” Bonet said in a video posted on Facebook. He also referred to officers battling rioters as “pieces of s–t,” court papers show.
In October 2021, Bonet pleaded guilty to knowingly entering or remaining in any restricted building or grounds. Senior U.S. District Judge Emmet G. Sullivan sentenced Bonet in March 2022 to 90 days in jail, one year of post-incarceration supervised release and $500 restitution.
The 90-day sentence was twice the amount requested by federal prosecutors. He was released from federal custody on Aug. 5.
Willliam Tryon, 72, a farmer from Coeymans who created a group called the “Liberty Bell Alliance 76,” was arrested in March 2021 after he was spotted in the U.S. Capitol. On Jan. 6, 2021, Tryon attended a “Stop the Steal” rally south of the White House. He then walked with friends toward the Capitol. He said he heard “booms,” saw smoke and spotted people climbing scaffolding and walking toward the west side of the Capitol.
Tryon admitted he saw police blocking access to the Capitol, that he asked officers for permission to enter the building and that they said no. But he tried to go inside anyway, only to be pepper-sprayed. Tryon admitted that, while holding an American flag, he entered the Capitol through an unguarded entrance.
As police officers attempted to clear the crowd, Tryon led a chorus of rioters who sang the Twisted Sister rock anthem, “We’re Not Gonna Take It.”
“All we want to do is enter and tell our representatives we want our country back. We’re not going to take this,” Tryon said on a video. “This was nothing so far.”
Tryon “praised his fellow rioters and compared their actions to the storming of Normandy during World War II,” prosecutors said in a sentencing memo to the judge.
After his arrest, Tryon expressed no remorse. He said “the whole thing was powerful” and “awesome,” prosecutors said.
Tryon pleaded guilty to misdemeanor charges. In January 2022, U.S. District Judge Reggie B. Walton sentenced Tryon to 50 days in jail, a $500 fine and a year of supervised release.
Tryon was released from federal custody in April.
Brandon Fellows, 28, of Niskayuna, who was living in a converted school bus, was arrested after the 2012 Niskayuna High School graduate was spotted on Jan,. 6, 2021 on a police motorcycle outside the U.S Capitol. He was wearing a fake orange beard and “USA” jacket. And Fellows had put his feet on the desk of U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley of Oregon. This was all captured on images documented in court papers.
Fellows boasted on social media: “We took the Capitol and it was glorious.”
Six days later, the defendant stated on Tik-Tok: “I’m not a terrorist, but I will be posting more photos so long as the FBI doesn’t come get me for walking in and taking photos and saying have a nice night to the police.”
Fellows smirked during court appearances, which prompted the federal judge overseeing his case, Trevor N. McFadden, to reprimand Fellows for acting “inappropriate for criminal proceedings in federal court.” The judge ordered McFadden to be home detention, but later jailed him after learning that Fellows had called the mother of his probation officer.
“I am a free spirit,” Fellows said in one court appearance. “If you read the fake news article, I like to drive in my bus; I like to travel. I am now stuck in what I view as a cave; and, now, a cave with cages and a bunch of people screaming throughout all hours of the night, and not the best food. Being a nutrition major, I am not a fan.”
Fellows’ case is pending. He is charged with four misdemeanor charges and a felony charge of obstruction of an official proceeding. He is set for trial on May 22 before McFadden in Washington, D.C.
Katelyn Bartow, 29 of Hadley in Saratoga County and her older brother, Travis Bartow, 31, of Nashville, who have been lauded for their work as Christian missionaries in Haiti, found themselves in a new position in October: facing federal charges,
They were charged with illegally taking part in the Jan. 6. 2021 breach on Washington D.C after security footage from inside the Capitol, documented in an FBI agent’s complaint and affidavit, showed Katelyn Bartow in a black cowboy hat and blue jacket and Travis Bartow wearing green jacket and blue jeans.
The brother and sister are accused of entering the Senate wing door, being in a hallway, standing in the Capitol’s crypt area and entering a visitors area. An FBI agent used the driver’s license photos of both Bartows and their social media photos to help identify them. Both defendants later admitted being in the Capitol; Travis Bartow initially said he was there alone and not with his younger sister.
Katelyn Bartow, who with her husband operates a dude ranch in Hadley, foreshadowed her appearance at the Jan. 6, 2021 incident in a post on Facebook one night earlier.
“Does anyone have friends near Washington DC where I could keep my horses for a night?” she asked.
She and her brother are charged with unlawfully entering and remaining in a restricted area of Capitol grounds, and engaging in disorderly conduct, both misdemeanors. They have pleaded not guilty and are free on bond.
Their cases are pending.
In November, acting Supreme Court Justice Roger McDonough sentenced Alex Contompasis to 20 years in prison for his trial conviction of first-degree assault and attempted first-degree assault for stabbing two Proud Boys outside the state Capitol.
Contompasis, 39, said he went to the Capitol as an independent journalist to document the “Stop the Steal” rally, which coincided with the larger one in Washington, D.C. They didn’t buy it, saying at Contompasis’ sentencing: “Independent journalists don’t carry knives. This defendant did.”
The judge weighed in on the political landscape behind all the violence of Jan. 6, 2021.
“There are loud and strident fringes on both sides of the political spectrum who believe that anyone who holds opinions different from their own are not only wrong but that they’re evil and that they must be silenced and driven from the public square, that they can’t be heard,” the judge said, adding that he believed such fringes were not even in the majority of their respective sides:
“And this sort of toxicity in the body politic has manifested itself on many occasions and directly in this incident, it’s manifested itself as criminal behavior. The toxicity manifested itself on Jan. 6 all over this country, but particularly in the context of this case here in Albany.”
Contompasis is serving his sentence in Upstate Correctional Facility in Franklin County.
Robert Gavin covers state and federal courts, criminal justice issues and legal affairs for the Times Union. Contact him at email@example.com.
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