Ex-NSA employee gets 14 days in jail for storming Capitol with members of white nationalist movement

Jun 14, 2023, 6:35 AM

FILE - Insurrections loyal to President Donald Trump rally at the U.S. Capitol in Washington on Jan...

FILE - Insurrections loyal to President Donald Trump rally at the U.S. Capitol in Washington on Jan. 6, 2021. Paul Lovely, a former National Security Agency employee, has been sentenced to two weeks of imprisonment for storming the U.S. Capitol with associates described by authorities as fellow followers of a far-right extremist movement. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana, File)

(AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana, File)

A associates described by authorities as fellow followers of a white nationalist movement.

Federal prosecutors had recommended 30 days of imprisonment for Paul Lovley, who lived in Halethorpe, Maryland. Lovley, 24, worked as an information technology specialist for the NSA before riot on the Jan. 6, 2021, according to prosecutors.

NSA spokesperson Cameron Potts referred questions about Lovley and his employment to the Justice Department, which did not elaborate in court filings on the nature of his work for the government.

U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly sentenced Lovley on Tuesday to 14 days behind bars, to be served over the course of seven weekends, along with three years of probation, according to a spokesperson for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia.

Lovley pleaded guilty in February to parading, demonstrating or picketing in a Capitol building, a misdemeanor punishable by a maximum term of imprisonment of six months.

Lovley was charged with four other men whom prosecutors described as “members” of the white nationalist America First movement. The movement’s leader is internet personality Nicholas Fuentes, who is known for promoting white supremacist and antisemitic views on his livestreams. His followers often call themselves “Groypers” or members of a “Groyper Army.”

“Groypers believe they are defending against the demographic and cultural changes that are destroying the ‘true America,’ a white, Christian nation,” Justice Department prosecutor Joseph Huynh wrote in a court filing. “Groypers attempt to normalize their ideology by aligning themselves with ‘Christianity’ and ‘traditional’ values, such as marriage and family.”

In November, former President Donald Trump was widely criticized for having dinner at his Mar-a-Lago club with Fuentes and Ye, the rapper formerly known as Kanye West. Trump said he had “never met and knew nothing about” Fuentes before he arrived with Ye at his club.

Fuentes, who was outside the Capitol on Jan. 6, is not accused of entering the building that day. Fuentes has not been charged with any riot-related crimes, but some of his followers have.

Lovley was charged with co-defendants Joseph Brody, Thomas Carey, Jon Lizak and Gabriel Chase. The five men, all in their early 20s, gathered at Lovely’s Maryland home on Jan. 5, 2021. The following day, they went to Washington and attended Trump’s “Stop the Steal” rally.

After other rioters breached the Capitol, the five men entered the building through the Senate wing doors, joined the mob in pushing past police officers in the Crypt and went into a conference room for then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office, according to prosecutors. Brody later broke off from their group and entered the Senate chamber while Lovley and the others remained outside, prosecutors said.

After they left the Capitol, Brody lifted a metal barricade and appeared to use it to obstruct or assault a police officer, according to prosecutors. Before leaving Capitol grounds, the group went to an area where rioters destroyed and looted media equipment, prosecutors said.

In a letter addressed to the judge, Lovley said he knows that his actions on Jan. 6 were “unbelievably irresponsible.”

“I am certain that I would not have even shown up if I had known that the day was going to turn into what it did beforehand,” he wrote.

Defense lawyer David Benowitz said Lovley moved from California to Maryland for an unspecified “government job” after graduating from California State University, San Bernadino. Lovley has since moved to a different state for a new job, according to his lawyer.

“It is clear that Mr. Lovley is a man of great values and great promise who recognizes that he made the worst decision of his life on January 6, 2021,” Benowitz wrote in a court filing.

Carey, who’s from Pittsburgh, Lizak of Huntington, New York, and Chase of Gainesville, Florida, all pleaded guilty to the same misdemeanor offense as Lovley. Last Tuesday, Kollar-Kotelly sentenced Carey to three years of probation, including 14 days of jail time. Chase is scheduled to be sentenced in July. A sentencing hearing for Lizak is set for October.

Charges against Brody, of Springfield, Virginia, have not been resolved.

More than 530 people have been sentenced for Jan. 6-related crimes, including at least three other Capitol riot defendants described as followers of the America First movement.

In October 2022, former UCLA student sentenced to to three years and six months in prison for storming the Capitol while waving a flag bearing the America First emblem.

Brandon Cavanaugh, who also carried an America First flag into the Capitol, was sentenced in April to 14 days behind bars.

Riley June Williams, who invaded Pelosi’s office with other rioters. was became “obsessed” with Fuentes and considered herself a member of his “Groyper Army.”

Judges have sentenced more than 300 Capitol riot defendants who pleaded guilty to the same misdemeanor charge as Lovley and three of his America First associates. Just under half of them received a term of imprisonment, according to an Associated Press review of court records.

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Ex-NSA employee gets 14 days in jail for storming Capitol with members of white nationalist movement