A former police officer from Virginia — who was fired after his riot-related case began — has now been ordered back to jail ahead of his trial on charges tied to the Capitol riot after authorities discovered weapons including what they called a “partially-assembled pipe bomb” in his home. That former officer, Thomas Robertson, may have committed yet another crime in his procurement of the weapons in question, according to federal Judge Christopher Cooper, the judge who ordered him back to jail and is handling his case. Cooper described that potential additional crime as “willfully shipping or transporting firearms and ammunition despite being under felony indictment.”
The charges that Robertson already faces include obstruction of an official proceeding, which is one of the more serious counts doled out against Capitol rioters and carries a potential prison sentence of up to 20 years. One defendant who faced the charge, Paul Hodgkins, pleaded guilty and was sentenced to just eight months in prison, but Robertson has already pleaded not guilty to all of the charges against him, suggesting that a trial could be forthcoming. Also unlike Hodgkins, who expressed remorse, Robertson has seemingly stuck right by the ideology that originally drove the violence. In June, Robertson wrote on an internet forum that he’d “learned very well that if you dip your toe into the Rubicon… cross it. Cross it hard and violent and play for all the marbles.”
That language — combined with his weapons stockpile — suggests that he could participate in possible future violence if allowed to remain out of federal custody, Judge Cooper noted. As Cooper put it:
‘The undisputed facts demonstrate a concrete risk that Robertson might participate in or provide material support to acts of ideologically motivated violence if released at this time… His recent social media posts may contain elements of bravado and hyperbole, but they provide evidence that Robertson is sympathetic to calls for a violent ‘revolution,’ […] and has been further radicalized by his pending prosecution.’
Cooper also wrote that Robertson’s “procurement of these dangerous weapons under the surrounding circumstances heightens the risk to public safety, despite the fact that he might have to lie on a federal form in order to take physical possession of them.” The stockpiled weapons were discovered at Robertson’s home on June 29, and soon thereafter, prosecutors requested a revocation of his bond, with Cooper now deciding in favor of prosecutors.