Federal prosecutors, who had earlier painted a picture of local right-winger Mark Sahady and his now convicted Natick pal merely strolling through the Capitol on Jan. 6, now say he was a-hootin' and a-hollerin' that day as other rioters smashed their way into the building to try to enthrone Donald Trump as president by force.
In a filing last week, federal prosecutors said that on Jan. 4, Sahady tweeted that "It’s time to fight. You have a right to use force against anyone, including the government, that tries to infringe on your rights" and then, after taking a bus from Massachusetts down to DC:
On January 6, Sahady, along with his friend Suzanne Ianni, made his way up the scaffolding on the northwest front of the U.S. Capitol Building amidst hundreds of rioters fighting with police. Sahady and Ianni then walked up the northwest stairs to the Northwest Courtyard. At approximately 2:41 p.m., Sahady and Ianni were standing near the Senate Wing Door into the Capitol Building when a rioter with a crowbar smashed open the nearby Parliamentarian Door. Sahady, upon seeing the other rioter hacking violently at the glass in the Parliamentarian Door, pointed at the rioter, pumped his fist, and yelled, "YEAH! FUCK YEAH! FUCK YEAH! PATRIOTS YEAH! YEAH! YEAH!"
The filing came as a response to requests by Sahady's lawyer to the judge in the case to drop two of the five charges against him: Obstruction of an official proceeding, which is a felony, and parading, demonstrating or picketing in a Capitol building, a misdemeanor. Sahady, best known locally for helping to organize anti-gay and white supremacist events, was not initially charged with the felony; it was added in an indictment issued by a federal grand jury just last month.
Sahady's lawyer, Blake Weiner, argued that the charges are unconstitutionally vague and that the certification of the Electoral College results was not an "official proceeding" under the law, which he says only refers to judicial hearings. And he argues that Sahady has a First Amendment right to make his case on Capitol grounds.
Also, because the two charges were only added last month, more than two years after Sahady's arrest, they are violations of his right to a speedy trial and prove "vindictive prosecution" for Sahady's insistence on his right to a trial.
[T]he government has clearly demonstrated "unnecessary delay" in presenting the charge to a grand jury and receiving an Indictment. Specifically, the government has possessed the necessary evidence on Mr. Sahady for over one year, if not two, and the government has charged multiple individuals who had conduct similar to Mr. Sahady with the same five charges in the Indictment, but charged these individuals years ago. Despite this information and knowledge, the government waited over two years to charge Mr. Sahady via Indictment with Count One. This delay was certainly "unnecessary," and this Court should exercise its discretion to dismiss the Indictment ...
Also, the charges are proof of "vindictive prosecution," because Sahady, unlike Ianni and other putschists, is exercising his right to a trial, rather seeking a plea deal, the lawyer, now Sahady's third, argued.
In her rebuttal, filed last week, assistant US Attorney Kaitlin Klamann said much of the delay was Sahady's fault, because prosecutors held off on adding further charges while the two sides worked on a possible plea deal, before Sahady decided he didn't want to plead.
She added that prosecutors went to a grand jury to seek an indictment, rather than simply bringing certain misdemeanor charges themselves, so long after Jan. 6 for other reasons as well: The massive nature of the overall Jan. 6 case, which involves thousands of charges against hundreds of people, the development of new evidence and delays caused by the pandemic.
Counsel for the government has been preparing for trial since they entered their appearances in February and have routinely deferred to the defendant's position on continuances in response to the last three months' developments. Additionally, as the government previously indicated to the Court, the Indictment was partially filed in response to new evidence, and that new evidence's effect on the government's view of pre-existing evidence. This new material, which arose through—and in tandem with—the typical document review, witness interviews, and strategic assessments that accompany trial preparation, was presented to the grand jury to complement the plethora of other evidence in this case.
She added prosecutors did not go to a grand jury simply to try to pressure Sahady to plead guilty in the case, because it's clear he wouldn't plead and so prosecutors are no longer interested in offering him a deal. She writes that five days after the indictment was released:
Sahady’s counsel approached the government regarding a re-extension of a plea offer to one or more of the misdemeanor counts in the Indictment. Government counsel declined to extend a plea offer to any of the misdemeanors.
She also argues that previous court cases have held that the interiors of Capitol buildings are "non-public" forums, where rules can be enforced to prevent the sort of protesting Sahady and other denialists engaged in on Jan. 6.
Still before the judge is a motion by Sahady's lawyer to change the venue of his trial from Washington to Massachusetts.
Jury selection is currently set for Aug. 21.