I-Team: ‘I’m done with politics,’ accused Capitol rioter arrested in Las Vegas tells judge; prosecutors say he tried to sell story

I-Team Special Reports

Hearing on pre-trial detention continues into Thursday

WASHINGTON (KLAS) — A man accused of taking part in the Jan. 6 Capitol riot told a federal judge he was ashamed of what happened and hoped to move on with his life during a detention hearing Tuesday.

Ronald “Ronnie” Sandlin had lived in Las Vegas for several years, but moved to live with his parents outside Memphis, Tennessee last summer, his lawyer told the court. Sandlin was most recently planning to move back to Las Vegas, his lawyer said.

Sandlin wrote on social media in January that he planned to drive to Washington from Tennessee, for former President Donald Trump’s rally on Jan. 6, court documents stated. However, no community where Sandlin is known to have resided, including Las Vegas, can find a record of him voting this past presidential cycle, the I-Team found.

In federal court Tuesday, Judge Dabney Friedrich questioned Sandlin’s lawyer about why his client deleted Facebook posts and moved around the country following the riot “when he knows he is going to be arrested.” The FBI arrested Sandlin outside of Nathaniel “Nathan” DeGrave’s apartment near the Las Vegas Strip on Jan. 29. DeGrave is also charged for his alleged involvement in the riot. Both have been in custody since.

“I’ve never been a violent person. I’ve never engaged in violence,” Sandlin told the judge. “I am no danger to the community. I am no criminal mastermind and I am certainly not a flight risk.”

In a previous hearing, Sandlin’s lawyer had told the court his client was spending 23 of 24 hours of the day alone in a small cell.

“I’m done with politics and I just want to focus on rebuilding my life and fighting my case,” Sandlin said. “I love my country and I do believe what I did was shameful.”

Sandlin was seen on video smoking weed inside the Capitol on Jan. 6. He is heard on the video saying, “People are smoking weed in here. Thank you patriot. We made history in here,” according to court documents.

His lawyer told the court Sandlin went to Washington to attend the rally, but could not elaborate on why his client ended up inside the Capitol, other than saying he “got caught up” in the riot.

“He feels like he got swept up in things and that he’s ruined his reputation,” Sandlin’s lawyer told the judge. “He just wants to be able to rebuild his life and put this behind him. He’s told me on a number of cases he’s done with politics. He almost feels ashamed about what happened.”

Prosecutors, who described Sandlin as “savvy,” said he was a flight risk. The State Department had suspended his passport due to $500,000 in back taxes, prosecutors told the judge. The prosecutor also told the judge Sandlin may be trying to profit off his story, saying he met with a documentary film director.

A photo submitted into evidence shows Ronald Sandlin inside the U.S. Capitol, prosecutors said. (KLAS)

Sandlin had a knife with him during the Capitol riot, but did not use or show it, prosecutors said. Video evidence shows Sandlin trying to rip a helmet off a police officer and opening up doors to the Senate chamber, prosecutors said.

According to prosecutors, Sandlin also attempted to sell footage of the riot before he was arrested.

“He also requested that [his mother] contact publishers on his behalf, as he was writing a book about ‘the Capitol incident’ and nearly finished with it,” prosecutors wrote in a filing.

Sandlin has pleaded not guilty to the charges against him, which include assaulting, resisting, or impeding certain officers, civil disorder and obstruction of an official proceeding and aiding and abetting.

The hearing will continue Thursday morning. The judge said if Sandlin were to be released, he would have to be monitored with an ankle bracelet and not have access to his phone.

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