A Vietnam veteran who participated in the attack on the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 and allegedly told investigators that he urinated on a column while inside the building will not spend any time behind bars. (With reference to the alleged urination, his attorney asserts to Law&Crime “that never happened.”)
Donald Trump supporter Robert “Bob” Snow, 78, drove more than 15 hours from his home in Arkansas to Washington, D.C. on Jan. 5 to attend the then-president’s so-called “Stop the Steal” rally. He then joined the mob at the Capitol building, making his way to the Upper West Terrace and cheering on the riotous crowd that was looking to stop Congress from certifying Joe Biden‘s win in the 2020 presidential election.
He entered the Capitol at 2:15 p.m., just minutes after the initial violent breach of the building, and waved other rioters in, patting some of them on the back as they entered. He spent some 45 minutes inside the building, making his way through the Rotunda, Statuary Hall, and the House Gallery on the third floor, where many Congressional staff officers are located.
He was not accused of engaging in any physical violence or property damage, although prosecutors say he did witness violent confrontations between rioters and police, and he cheered in support of the crowd.
Snow pleaded guilty in March to the misdemeanor charge of parading, demonstrating, or picketing inside the Capitol building. The charge carries a potential six-month jail sentence and a fine of up to $5,000.
Notably, the urination allegation was left out of both the plea and sentencing, though it was contained in the original FBI statement of facts filed in a federal magistrate court proceeding against Snow on Dec. 29, 2021. That document appears on a government database of Jan. 6 cases as follows:
In an email to Law&Crime, Snow attorney Christopher Macchiaroli wrote, in part, as follows. It explains why, from his perspective, the urination allegation was not mentioned in later documents or proceedings:
Simply put, that never happened. There is no video of Mr. Snow urinating inside the U.S. Capitol and no audio recording of Mr. Snow saying that he urinated inside the U.S. Capitol. The Government’s sentencing memorandum makes no reference to Mr. Snow urinating inside the Capitol or claiming that he did and the Government made no allegation of that at the sentencing earlier today. Accordingly, there is no reference to this allegation in the Defendant’s Sentencing Memorandum.
Prosecutors had requested 14 days incarceration, three years of probation, and 60 hours of community service. Snow had argued that due to his age, health, acceptance of responsibility, and cooperating with the government’s investigation into the Jan. 6 attack, no jail time or supervision was warranted.
Pursuant to the plea agreement, Snow will pay $500 in restitution for the estimated $2.7 million in damage to the Capitol.
At Thursday’s sentencing hearing before U.S. District Judge Timothy Kelly, Assistant U.S. Attorney Alison Prout said that if Snow, despite being elderly and having some health issues, was well enough to make a 30-hour round-trip from Arkansas to Washington, stand in the cold at Trump’s rally for hours, walk more than a mile to the Capitol, and spend almost 45 minutes inside the building, that he was healthy enough to go to jail.
“[He] does not appear to be substantially limited by physical ability as far as his age or health goes,” Prout said.
Snow, who served in the armed forces from 1962 until 1968 — including in the war in Vietnam — had expressed regret for his role in the riot, and he repeated his apology in court on Thursday.
“What started out to be a happy patriotic event for me that morning soon, in the late afternoon, turned into something becoming very very dark for the country and now for me personally,” Snow said. “It was far beyond anything I or anyone could have imagined. It turned into a nightmare.”
“I have searched deep in side of myself to find reason to find an answer to my question as to why,” Snow continued. “Why did I enter that building at that time, on that day?”
Snow said he will suffer “personal shame for that mistake for many years to come, maybe indeed the rest of my life.”
“I offer my true apology to my family, to my friends, if there are any left, to my community, and indeed to my nation, and to all who my have been offended by my action,” Snow added.
Kelly, a Trump appointee, referred to Snow’s apology as “fulsome” and said that he had seen many Jan. 6 defendants who didn’t appear anywhere near as regretful.
“You’ve taken responsibility in a way that makes me know you understand what happened is wrong, and why,” Kelly told Snow.
In the end, Kelly didn’t grant the government’s request for jail time, but he also did not go so far as to let Snow completely off the hook. He ultimately sentenced him to one year of probation and 60 hours of community service.
“I do think you should make amends by performing some community service,” Kelly told Snow.
Twice during the hearing, Kelly told Snow that once he completed his community service, he would be eligible to apply to have his probation terminated before the 12 months were up.
As he handed down his sentence, Kelly addressed Snow’s stated concern about the legacy he would leave behind.
“We’re a country of second chances,” Kelly said. “We’re a country [that gives] people ample opportunity to make up for the mistakes that they make and I think . . . having honorably made amends for a mistake you made — a very serious mistake for sure — but having honorably made amends for that mistake, that is something that you can be proud of with regards to your kids and your grandkids.”
Kelly also discussed Snow’s allegation that he had received threats as a result of his role in the riot and his subsequent arrest.
“I hope that if what’s coming your way rises to the level of crime that you continue to report those to law enforcement,” Kelly said. “There’s no place for that in our society.”
[Editor’s note: this piece has been updated to include comments from Snow’s attorney about the allegation that his client urinated on a column on Jan. 6 and to include a screen shot from the record as to where that allegation originally appeared. Law&Crime’s original version of this piece noted that the allegation had been dropped from subsequent court records and proceedings.]
[Images via FBI court filings.]
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