Prosecutors reveal a reason for Capitol rioter’s secretive sentencing: His government cooperation

Oct 2, 2023, 7:00 PM

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. A felony case stemming from the U.S. Capitol riot appears to have been resolved in secret, with the man released from federal custody this week despite no public record of a conviction or sentencing. Pennsylvania resident Samuel Lazar was arrested in July 2021 and had been jailed since then on charges in the Jan. 6 insurrection. There's no public record of a conviction or a sentence in Lazar’s court docket. But the Bureau of Prisons tells The Associated Press that Lazar was sentenced in March to 30 months behind bars for assaulting or resisting a federal officer. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana, File)

(AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana, File)

Prosecutors want to keep certain details of Samuel Lazar’s cooperation under wraps, but they have acknowledged for the first time that he supplied the government with information as part of a plea agreement.

Publicly releasing information that Lazar provided could interfere with ongoing investigations, according to a joint court filing by prosecutors and Lazar’s attorney. The filing, which is dated Friday but was docketed on Monday, also says Lazar “named individuals responsible for criminal conduct who may not have been charged.”

More than 1,100 people have been charged with Jan. 6-related crimes, and hundreds of them have pleaded guilty. But it is rare for records of a guilty plea and sentence to be sealed, even in cases involving a defendant’s cooperation. Court hearings and records are supposed to be open and available to the public unless there’s a compelling need for secrecy.

Lazar, 37, of Ephrata, Pennsylvania, was released from federal custody on Sept. 13 after serving a 30-month prison sentence. His cooperation with the government was discussed at a March 2023 sentencing hearing that was closed to the public, the joint filing says.

A coalition of news outlets, including The Associated Press, on Friday renewed its request for the court to unseal records of Lazar’s guilty plea and punishment. Prosecutors and Lazar’s attorney are asking for 30 days to redact records of his cooperation before they are publicly released.

U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson, who sentenced Lazar, didn’t immediately rule on either request.

In May, Jackson had rejected the initial request from media outlets to release any sealed records that may exist. Jackson said the case law cited by the press coalition “plainly recognizes that there may be circumstances where a need for secrecy can be outweighed by competing significant interests.”

Lazar was arrested in July 2021 on charges that he came to the Capitol on Jan. 6 dressed in tactical gear and protective goggles and used chemical spray on officers who were trying to hold off the mob of Donald Trump supporters.

Videos captured Lazar approaching police lines outside the Capitol and discharging an orange chemical irritant toward officers, an FBI agent said in a court filing. Lazar shouted profane insults at police through the bullhorn, calling them tyrants and yelling, “Let’s get their guns!”

Lazar remained jailed for nearly two years before his sentencing. A magistrate judge who ordered Lazar’s detention concluded that his pretrial release would pose “a concrete, prospective threat to public safety.”

Attorneys for the news outlets questioned why records of Lazar’s guilty plea and sentence remained under seal even after his release from prison.

“The press, the public, and presumably even the police victims of Lazar’s violence on January 6 therefore have no idea how or why this January 6 riot participant, deemed just a couple of years ago to be too dangerous to release, is now free,” the lawyers wrote on Friday.

As recently as last month, the Justice Department refused to say why the case remains under wraps, while attorneys for Lazar did not respond to multiple requests for comment from The AP.


United States News

Associated Press

Judge drops felony charges against ex-elections official in Virginia

MANASSAS, Va. (AP) — A Virginia judge has dismissed felony charges against a former county elections official accused of misconduct in the 2020 election, a decision made after state prosecutors said a key witness changed his story. At the prosecutors’ request, the judge on Friday dismissed a felony charge of corrupt conduct and one for […]

51 minutes ago

Associated Press

Treasury creates new strike force as US and China pursue crackdown on illicit fentanyl trafficking

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Treasury Department on Monday announced a new strike force to help combat illicit fentanyl trafficking as the U.S. and China step up efforts to stop the movement of the powerful opioid and drug-making materials into the U.S. The Counter-Fentanyl Strike Force will bring together personnel and intelligence from throughout the Treasury […]

2 hours ago

Associated Press

Man suspected of killing 4, including a 1-year-old, at a Dallas home kills self during police chase

DALLAS (AP) — A man suspected of killing four people, including a 1-year-old boy, and injuring a 15-year-old girl in a shooting at a Dallas home fatally shot himself during a chase with law enforcement, police said Monday. Byron Carillo, 21, fled the home after the shooting late Sunday afternoon and then stole a vehicle, […]

2 hours ago

In this image provided by the U.S. Air Force, Airman 1st Class Jackson Ligon, 341st Missile Mainten...

Associated Press

The Air Force is expanding a review of cancers for service members who worked with nuclear missiles

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Air Force is expanding its study of whether service members who worked with nuclear missiles have had unusually high rates of cancer after a preliminary review determined that a deeper examination is needed. The initial study was launched in response to reports that many who served are now ill. The Air […]

2 hours ago

Associated Press

Former top Ohio utility regulator surrenders in $60 million bribery scheme linked to energy bill

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Ohio’s former top utility regulator surrendered Monday in connection with a $60 million bribery scheme related to a legislative bailout for two Ohio nuclear power plants that has already resulted in a 20-year prison sentence for a former state House speaker. Sam Randazzo, former chair of the Public Utilities Commission of […]

4 hours ago

Associated Press

Fire blamed on e-bike battery kills 1, injures 6 in Bronx apartment building

NEW YORK (AP) — One person was killed and six others were injured when a fire blamed on an electric bicycle battery tore through a New York City apartment, officials said Monday. The fire started at around 7 p.m. Sunday in a 10th-floor apartment in a public housing complex in the Bronx, a Fire Department […]

5 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Follow @KTAR923...

The 2023 Diamondbacks are a good example to count on the underdog

The Arizona Diamondbacks made the World Series as a surprise. That they made the playoffs at all, got past the Milwaukee Brewers in the NL Wild Card round, swept the Los Angeles Dodgers in the NLDS and won two road games in Philadelphia to close out a full seven-game NLCS went against every expectation. Now, […]

Follow @KTAR923...

West Hunsaker at Morris Hall supports Make-A-Wish Foundation in Arizona

KTAR's Community Spotlight this month focuses on Morris Hall and its commitment to supporting the Make-A-Wish Foundation in Arizona.



Key dates for Arizona sports fans to look forward to this fall

Fall brings new beginnings in different ways for Arizona’s professional sports teams like the Cardinals and Coyotes.

Prosecutors reveal a reason for Capitol rioter’s secretive sentencing: His government cooperation