The U.S. government is recommending a Champion man serve 60 days in prison for his role in the Jan. 6, 2021, riot at the nation’s Capitol in Washington, D.C.
Attorneys on both sides of the case involving Stephen Ayres submitted memos this week to U.S. Judge John D. Bates of the District of Columbia District Court, who set the sentencing hearing for Thursday.
Stephen Ayres, 39, of Carolewood Circle NW, pleaded guilty June 8 as part of a plea agreement his lawyer reached with prosecutors in May. He remains free on bond.
Ayres, through his attorney Eugene Ohm, asked the court to sentence him to probation and community service.
At the beginning of a 19-page memorandum to the court, Ohm writes his client “is a devoted husband and father to a 1-year-old son and a 10-year-old stepson.” At the time of his arrest, Ayres was working as a supervisor for KraftMaid Cabinetry in Middlefield.
“Because of his mistakes on January 6th, he was terminated from that job — a place he had worked for 20 years beginning in high school,” Ohm states. “This termination — and more specifically, his mistake on January 6th — wreaked havoc on Mr. Ayres’ life.”
THOUGHTS OF A FRIEND
The defense memo also talks about Ayres’ emotional sufferings, especially from the tragic loss of his co-defendant and high school friend Matthew Perna. Ohm’s memo stated that Perna killed himself largely because of the pressures of this case after Perna pleaded guilty to federal charges late last year.
“Mr. Ayres thinks of Mr. Perna every day,” Ohm wrote, noting that Perna had conveyed to his client that he felt responsible that Ayres had been charged.
Ohm stated his client is deeply ashamed to be categorized as a rioter who attacked the Capitol.
“Mr. Ayres has spent considerable time reflecting on what led him to be part of January 6th, how his loyalty to a president somehow led him to becoming — to the world — an insurrectionist.”
In live testimony in June to a House committee investigating the Jan. 6 riot, Ayres said he no longer follows politics as closely and is off social media entirely. In his sentencing memo, Ohm reiterated this issue.
“He (Ayres) recognizes the deep divisions that still exist in politics, and he is determined that extracting himself from them is the only way to ensure that he remains focused on what is and has always been his greatest priority — his family,” Ohm wrote.
According to the memo, Jan. 6 was the first political rally Ayres attended upon an invitation from Perna, who gave him a ride to Washington, D.C.
“Ayres… wanted to see President Trump speak and had no designs of going to the Capitol,” Ohm wrote.
But as Ayres told the house committee, Trump had told him to march to the Capitol.
According to the memo, Ayres waited until the end of the rally and joined the crowd, wondering if the president would be speaking again.
The memo said Ayres has no excuse for making the poor choice to walk into the building.
“But he entered and walked around for about ten minutes, never departing from the velvet ropes from the hallway. Then he left and went outside,” Ohm writes.
A footnote in the memo stated that Ayres had remained in the general area until a Trump tweet at 4:17 p.m. that day urged all to leave the area.
Ohm also talks about Ayres’ decision to testify before the House committee.
“While he first faced scorn when he was arrested, he was met with anger and was even abandoned by some close to him after he testified. But Mr. Ayres did what he had to do and became a cooperating witness albeit in a nontraditional sense,” Ohm writes.
Ayres was asked by the government to help by assisting in the prosecution of others for the aftermath of what happened on Jan. 6 and help in determining what steps the government can take to ensure that this would never happen again.
“Ayres did everything that was asked,” Ohms writes, noting that Ayres provided testimony on three occasions, twice in person in D.C.
In its 18-page memo, assistant U.S. Attorney Nihar Moharity — in addition to the short prison term — recommends that Ayres serve one-year of supervised release, do 60 hours of community service and pay $500 in restitution.
Ayres participated in an attack that forced the interruption of Congress’ certification of the 2020 Electoral College vote count, threatened the peaceful transfer of power, injured more than 100 police officers and resulted in more than $2.7 million in losses, which accounts for damage to the Capitol building and grounds, costs borne by the Capitol Police and cost of repairs.
Ayres had pleaded guilty to one count of committing disorderly or disruptive conduct in a restricted building or grounds.
Moharity wrote she thinks 60 days is appropriate based on Ayres’ social media statements prior to Jan. 6 that stated members of Congress, Chief Justice John Roberts and Vice President Mike Pence had committed treason and “were now put on notice.” She also noted Ayres’ entry into the building and posting images of the riot on social media as well as agreeing with another person in a YouTube video posted after the attack that the purpose of the riot was “to expose Pence as a traitor.”
“The Court must also consider that Ayres’ conduct on January 6, like the conduct of hundreds of other rioters, took place in the context of a large and violent riot that relied on numbers to overwhelm police, breach the Capitol and disrupt the proceedings,” the government lawyer wrote.