A Capitol riot participant who a court document indicates stole a U.S. flag and flagpole from somewhere on the Capitol grounds during the chaos was recently criminally charged for his actions.
The publicly available court document indicates he was charged with both theft of government property and entering and remaining in a restricted building or grounds. Theft of government property carries a prison sentence of up to 10 years if the value of whatever was involved is over $1,000, but the court document, which outlines charges for Neil Ashcraft, specifies that the value of the flag and flagpole is under that level. Thus, Ashcraft is apparently facing jail-time of up to one year if he is found guilty or admits to the offense (although the latter would likely leave him with less time in prison). Not much information about the Ashcraft case is available to the public at this time.
It’s worth noting Ashcraft’s charging document suggests he may have sought to sell the stolen Capitol flag and flagpole. “On or about January 6, 2021, within the District of Columbia, NEIL ASHCRAFT, did embezzle, steal, purloin, knowingly convert to his use and the use of another, and without authority, sold, conveyed and disposed of any record, voucher, money and thing of value of the United States and any department and agency thereof, that is, a United States flag and flagpole, which have a value of less than $1,000,” the document says. The description included in the filing is not simply the entirety of the relevant pieces of federal law. For instance, the same section of federal law also prohibits taking possession of a piece of stolen government property with knowledge of its origin, but that portion of the law wasn’t included in Ashcraft’s charging doc.
Per the portions of the relevant pieces of federal law cited by the prosecution, Ashcraft also may have “conveyed” the stolen items to someone else or otherwise “disposed of” them. In addition, the cited portion of federal law, as made available by Cornell University, is less definitive. It covers “Whoever embezzles, steals, purloins, or knowingly converts to his use or the use of another, or without authority, sells, conveys or disposes” of various U.S. government items (emphasis added). The change in phrasing obviously seems intentional, suggesting Ashcraft is accused of both referenced courses of action. Ashcraft’s charging document was filed last Friday, and his case was assigned to federal Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly, who was a nominee to the federal judiciary of Bill Clinton. The charge of theft of government property is evidently a felony offense.
In other Capitol riot news, former New York City police officer Thomas Webster recently received the longest prison sentence imposed on any riot participant up to this point. He was sentenced to 10 years after fighting an officer at the Capitol in an incident that included Webster tackling the cop to the ground and seemingly trying to rip off the officer’s gear. Earlier, Webster repeatedly and violently swung a metal flagpole at officers with enough force that it broke. Separately, Julian Khater, who sprayed chemical irritants into the face of Capitol Police officer Brian Sicknick during the violence, recently pleaded guilty to two counts of assault with a dangerous weapon and is evidently facing up to a little over eight years in prison, although judges have some leeway in imposing sentences in these cases. Trump maintains his insistence on potentially providing pardons to individuals who participated in the Capitol riot if he wins the presidency again.