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Man who attacked police with hockey stick during Capitol riot gets over 3 years in prison

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WASHINGTON -

A former military officer who assaulted police officers with a hockey stick and a sharp metal pole while he stormed the U.S. Capitol was sentenced on Wednesday to more than three years in prison.

Michael Joseph Foy, 33, threw the pole at police and struck officers with the hockey stick as a mob of rioters fought for control of an entrance to the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. Then he climbed through a broken window and walked around the building.

Foy, a Marine Corps veteran from Michigan, apologized to the officers whom he assaulted -- and "to my country" -- before U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan sentenced him to three years and four months of imprisonment. He also thanked the judge for releasing him from pretrial custody in July 2021, allowing him to find a job and improve his mental health.

"You allowed me to build the life that I so desperately needed after I got out of the Marine Corps," he told the judge before learning his sentence.

Chutkan oversees former President Donald Trump's election interference case in Washington, D.C. Her handling of the Jan. 6 riot cases is getting added scrutiny as she presides over Trump's case in the same federal courthouse.

Trump's trial was originally set to begin next month, but the case has been on hold while Trump appeals his claims of presidential immunity from prosecution. No new trial date has been set.

Chutkan is known for being one of the toughest punishers of Jan. 6 rioters. In Foy's case, however, she imposed a punishment that was over four years shorter than the prison sentence that prosecutors recommended. She said she was sentencing Foy "with a heavy heart" because she has been impressed with the progress that he has made since his release from jail.

"I want you to build on that," she said. "I think you can."

But the judge said she had to punish Foy for the "horrific" violence that he engaged in during the Capitol attack.

"You took an oath to serve your country, and you knew better," she said. "What you did there on Jan. 6 was not serving your country."

Chutkan convicted Foy of two felonies -- assaulting a police officer and obstruction of an official proceeding -- after a "stipulated bench trial," which means the judge decided the case without a jury and based on facts that both sides agreed to before trial. Such trials allow defendants to maintain appeal rights that are waived by a guilty plea.

Prosecutors recommended a prison sentence of eight years and one month. Foy's attorneys asked the judge to spare Foy from serving any more time behind bars beyond the five months that he spent in pretrial custody.

Chutkan described the prosecutors' recommendation as "unreasonable" and far longer than the sentences handed down to rioters who engaged in similar acts of violence on Jan. 6. The judge said she hasn't grown numb to the violence that she routinely sees captured on video and shown in her courtroom.

"I'm horrified every single time," she said.

Foy travelled alone from his home in Wixom, Michigan, to attend Trump's "Stop the Steal" rally near the White House on Jan. 6. He wore an American flag around his shoulders and carried a "TRUMP 2020" flag attached to a hockey stick.

Approaching the mouth of a tunnel on the Capitol's Lower West Terrace, Foy picked up a sharpened metal pole and hurled it like a spear into the body of a police officer, who fell over.

Foy later swung his hockey stick at police officers, hitting them at least 11 times in 16 seconds. He knocked one of them backward and struck an injured officer who had already fallen down.

"While other rioters engaged in their own violent assaults with (pepper) spray, bare fists, gnarled sticks, stolen batons, and metal crutches, Foy's violence was amongst the most vicious in the melee," Assistant U.S. Attorney Matthew Beckwith wrote in a court filing.

Foy's military background "made him more dangerous and effective" as he assaulted police, the prosecutor argued.

"That violence was a betrayal to the country he vowed to protect and it was directed at Americans who had made similar vows to serve their country and protect their nation's Capital," Beckwith wrote.

Foy served in the US. Marine Corps from 2015 until June 2020, working as a heavy equipment mechanic and attaining the rank of corporal before he was honourably discharged. He served as a supervisor on a North Carolina base.

More than 1,300 people have been charged with Capitol riot-related federal crimes. Over 800 of them have been sentenced, with roughly two-thirds receiving terms of imprisonment ranging from a few days to 22 years.

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Associated Press writer Alanna Durkin Richer in Boston contributed to this report.

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