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Thursday, April 18, 2024

UF student sentenced to 3 years probation for involvement in Capitol riots

The student is set to return to campus this Fall

Rioters loyal to President Donald Trump rally at the U.S. Capitol in Washington on Jan. 6, 2021. Law enforcement officials say, Taylor Taranto, a man wanted for crimes related to the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection at the U.S. Capitol has been arrested in the Washington neighborhood where former President Barack Obama lives. Taranto was seen a few blocks from the former president's home, and he fled even though he was chased by U.S. Secret Service agents. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana, File)
Rioters loyal to President Donald Trump rally at the U.S. Capitol in Washington on Jan. 6, 2021. Law enforcement officials say, Taylor Taranto, a man wanted for crimes related to the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection at the U.S. Capitol has been arrested in the Washington neighborhood where former President Barack Obama lives. Taranto was seen a few blocks from the former president's home, and he fled even though he was chased by U.S. Secret Service agents. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana, File)

UF student Gabriel Chase was sentenced to a 3-year probation July 5 for his involvement in the Jan. 6, 2021, riots at the United States Capitol. 

Chase, a 22-year-old UF history student, was arrested in September on four counts of misdemeanors related to the Capitol riots. The arrest warrant was issued after an unidentified FBI special agent filed a complaint alleging Chase and four accomplices were present at the riots.

The complaint describes the group’s actions in detail using cellular data records, Venmo payments, and CCTV footage from the Capitol interior on Jan. 6, 2021. 

Chase and Joseph Brody, Paul Lovley, Jon Lizak and Thomas Carey allegedly remained in the Capitol building for 30 minutes and entered the office of Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, according to the complaint.

After leaving the Capitol, the group went to the north end of the building, where Brody helped another rioter use a metal barricade against a Capitol police officer in order to secure the north door. 

“Brody’s associates watched as he assaulted this law enforcement officer,” the agent wrote. 

Chase and Brody proceeded to destroy and loot media equipment, according to the complaint.

Jan. 6 was not the first time Chase associated with Brody and the other rioters.

Chase and his associates were associated with America First, a far-right reactionary movement led by Nick Fuentes, according to the report. 

Chase, Lovely, Brody and Lizak initially met at an America First event and attended subsequent events together, the complaint alleged. Chase served as a political intern for America First from December 2020 to December 2021, according to the defendant's memorandum in aid of sentencing. 

“It was the encouragement of this group’s leader, Nicholas Fuentes, that led me to Washington D.C. on January 6th,” Chase wrote in a letter to Senior Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. 

Chase wrote he became increasingly disenchanted with Fuentes and his organization after the events of Jan. 6th.

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Chase pled guilty to one count of parading, demonstrating, or picketing in a capitol building on Nov. 10.

The plea deal included an agreement that the statement of offense included in the initial complaint accurately described Chase’s actions.

The terms of Chase’s probation include a three-day prison sentence and a $500 restitution payment to the Architect of the Capitol, a federal agency tasked with the maintenance and preservation of the United States Capitol Complex.

Chase expressed regret for his actions in his letter to Senior Judge Kollar-Kotelly.

“I regret my part in what it did to our nation, our democracy, and to the congresspeople and law enforcement who were present at the Capitol that day,” Chase wrote. “Since then, I have tried to better my life. I have been there for my family, I completed my AA, and I enrolled at the University of Florida.”

Chase is currently enrolled for the upcoming fall semester at UF. 

Contact Garrett at gshanley@alligator.org. Follow him on Twitter @garrettshanley.

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Garrett Shanley

Garrett Shanley is a third-year journalism and history major and The Alligator's Fall 2023 university administration reporter. In his free time, Garrett can be found watching Wong Kar-Wai movies and brooding.


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