June 23 (UPI) -- A federal judge on Wednesday sentenced a woman who entered the Capitol building during the Jan. 6 insurrection to probation, making her the first rioter to receive a sentence.
Anna Morgan-Lloyd, 49, was sentenced to three years of probation and assessed a $500 fine after pleading guilty to a single misdemeanor for trespassing inside the Capitol. She traveled from Indiana to participate in the riot that sought to derail Congress' efforts to certify President Joe Biden's 2020 election win over Donald Trump.
The Justice Department said Morgan-Lloyd avoided jail time because she did not plan or coordinate with others before Jan. 6, did not act violently during the riot, was only in one hallway for 10 minutes, immediately cooperated with investigators, did not have a criminal record and expressed strong regret.
In delivering the sentence, U.S. District Judge Royce C. Lamberth described the insurrection as a "disgrace" and condemned Republicans for promoting "utter nonsense" by seeking to downplay the severity of the riot.
"I'm especially troubled by the accounts of some members of Congress that January 6 was just a day of tourists walking through the Capitol," he said. "I don't know what planet they were on ... This was not a peaceful demonstration. It was not an accident that it turned violent; it was intended to halt the very functioning of our government."
In contrast, Lamberth credited Morgan-Lloyd for cooperating in the investigation, showing contrition for her actions and condemning the others who joined the crowd.
"Some of these defendants are not going to do what you did. They're not going to say they did anything wrong. They, to this day, would still participate in the demonstration," Lamberth said. "I don't want to create the impression that probation is the automatic outcome here, because it's not going to be."
Despite describing Jan. 6 as "the most exciting day" of her life after the riot, Morgan-Lloyd said she later "felt ashamed that something meant to show support" for then-President Trump led to violence and left five people dead.
"This is not the way to prove any point. At first, it didn't dawn on me, but later I realized that if every person like me, who wasn't violent, was removed from that crowd, the ones who were violent may have lost the nerve to do what they did," she said. "For that, I am sorry and take responsibility. It was never my intent to help empower people to act violently."
In the six months since the riot the Justice Department has charged nearly 500 defendants across 34 states and has secured seven guilty pleas.
Earlier this month, federal prosecutors announced plans to drop charges against Christopher Kelly of New York for allegedly entering the Capitol and obstructing Congress, citing a lack of evidence.