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‘His Life Has Been Turned Upside Down’: UCLA Student Booted from ‘Dream School’ After Jan. 6 Arrest Is Going to Prison for Obstruction Felony

Christian Secor

Christian Secor on Jan. 6

A pro-Donald Trump former UCLA student who admittedly breached the Capitol on Jan. 6 to obstruct the congressional certification of Joe Biden’s 2020 election win was sentenced to three and a half years in prison.

Christian Secor, 24, of Costa Mesa, California, was sentenced Wednesday in the courtroom of U.S. District Judge Trevor McFadden, a Trump-appointed judge who has handled many Jan. 6 cases and acquitted some defendants at bench trials. Secor didn’t get a bench trial or any trial because he pleaded guilty to the obstruction felony back in May.

As part of the plea agreement, the government agreed not to prosecute Secor for numerous other charges, many of them standard Jan. 6 misdemeanors. Despite that, Secor will still spend 42 months in prison and serve 36 months of supervised release, the court docket shows.

Prosecutors said Secor traveled from California to be in D.C. on Jan. 6. The “America First Bruins” campus organization founder wore a Make America Great Again and brought an “America First” flag with him went entered the Capitol. He eventually sat in then-Vice President Mike Pence’s chair in the Senate chamber as fellow Trump supporters filled the room.

Defense attorney Brandi Harden argued in the defense’s sentencing memorandum that Secor’s “participation was minimal, short lived, and included no violence.” She said her client will “forever regret” his choice to enter the Capitol.

“He joined the crowd without a plan and without any understanding of what was about to unfold,” the lawyer said.

Christian Secor holding America First flag

Christian Secor

Harden asserted that while Jan. 6 “cannot, and should not, be minimized,” her client “was not the cause of January 6, nor was he in the classification of people that caused physical harm to the Capitol or others.” The defense lawyer also assigned blame to the “former President, the [“Stop the Steal”/”Save America”] rally’s organizers, and speakers” for “contribut[ing] to the chaos.”

The lawyer said that Secor’s life has been “turned upside down” ever since.

“In 2018 Christian was admitted to his dream school, UCLA, and was expected to graduate in 2022. However, because of his conduct on January 6, 2021, he was suspended, arrested, and stayed behind bars for more than thirty days,” the lawyer noted. “Because of Christian’s poor decision-making, his life has been turned upside down.”

The defense lawyer explained her client’s travel to D.C. by saying he “had become disillusioned by the hysteria about a stolen election coming from social media and news channels.”

Describing her client has “an otherwise law-abiding citizen” who “made a tremendous mistake,” the lawyer asked for her client to be sentenced to community service, two years of supervised probation, and “home detention in lieu of incarceration.”

Prosecutors said in their memo, however, that Secor deserved as much as 57 months behind bars.

“Prior to January 6, Secor had several conversations via text message regarding what he perceived as a stolen or rigged 2020 Presidential election. On November 3, 2020, Secor sent a text message stating ‘We’re gonna win bigly and if we don’t we’re taking this ship down in flames,'” the memo said. “On November 4, 2020, Secor sent a text message stating ‘They’re cheating. Trump will pull through by legal or illegal means.'”

As months passed and Trump’s false voter fraud claims continued, Secor was only emboldened to travel across the country. Prosecutors said he even “wishful” that “conservatives” attack police and Antifa:

Secor traveled to Washington, D.C. from his home in southern California, flying into Reagan National Airport on January 5, 2021. Secor messaged another individual on January 5, 2021, stating that he “brought a gas mask” to D.C. because he “expect[s] [expletive] to go sideways” and “people are pissed, burning thin blue line flags, I heard that Journos had targets on their back last time and that’ll be amplified this time. Wouldn’t be surprised if conservatives just storm the police and clobber antifa and the police but that’s wishful thinking.”

“The institutional attacks on this demonstration are something out of the Arab Spring. More reason to go by any means necessary!” Secor added in another representative statement ahead of the Capitol attack.

But Secor’s actions in the aftermath of Jan. 6 are as telling as his actions before and during, prosecutors indicate.

“After the events at the Capitol, Secor posted many Tweets to Twitter, including ‘It was Trump supporters you losers, and you should be proud. One day accomplished more for conservativism than the last 30 years.’ After January 8, 2021, Secor deleted his Twitter account. Secor also asked the individual to whom he texted the photograph from the Senate gallery to delete the photo. The individual complied,” the government said, noting that Secor’s phone just happened to ping last on Jan. 17, 2021 and wasn’t found by investigators.

Prosecutors said that last ping was five days after Secor became aware that the feds were considering sedition cases against Jan. 6 rioters:

On January 12, 2021, Secor texted another individual a screenshot of a Tweet from @LibertyHangout announcing that the FBI and DOJ will pursue sedition charges against the U.S. Capitol Rioters, with a sentence of 20 years. On January 17, 2021, the iPhone XR used by Secor while on the grounds of the Capitol had its last known cell site activity between 2:27 p.m. and 2:37 p.m. in Newport Beach, California. Law enforcement officials who executed a warrant to search of Secor’s residence on February 16, 2021 never recovered that phone. On January 23, 2021, Secor, using a new Samsung phone and phone number, texted another individual the message “my fb doesn’t have anything btw,” referring to information on his Facebook page about his presence at the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021 and his opinions on the 2020 Presidential Election. The other individual responded, “no the page you made” and “I thought you were trying to delete everything?” Secor responded “I’ll delete it today.”

Before concluding their sentencing memo, the government also made sure to note that Secor is a follower of Nicholas Fuentes, described as a “public figure known for making racist statements, celebrating fascism, and promoting white supremacy.” Although the document didn’t refer to Secor as a self-described fascist, the feds cited his support of Fuentes — and a tweet seemingly calling fascism “epic” — as proof the defendant harbored “extremist sentiments”:

Christian Secor tweets re: fascism

Judge McFadden ultimately sentenced Secor to 42 months in prison, 15 months of incarceration less than what the government sought.

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Matt Naham is the Senior A.M. Editor of Law&Crime.