LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — A federal judge sentenced a U.S. Capitol rioter arrested in Las Vegas to 63 months in prison, ordering him to also pay a $2,000 fine.
Ronald “Ronnie” Sandlin, 35, sent messages to friends shortly after Jan. 6, saying he expected to serve prison time, and later threatened a jail officer with a chair, documents the 8 News Now Investigators reviewed said.
As part of a plea agreement, federal prosecutors asked a judge to sentence Sandlin to no more than the 63 months. Sandlin’s attorney had requested a lesser sentence of 41 months. Following his more than 5-year prison term, Sandlin will have a 3-year period of supervised release, Judge Dabney Friedrich ordered.
The FBI arrested Sandlin outside of Nathaniel “Nate” DeGrave’s apartment near the Las Vegas Strip on Jan. 29, 2021 – three weeks after the Jan. 6 insurrection. The 8 News Now Investigators interviewed both men from jail last year.
Inside the Capitol, Sandlin attempted to rip off an officer’s helmet before reaching the U.S. Senate Chamber. While leaving the building, Sandlin took an oil painting off a wall before leaving it behind, prosecutors said.
Sandlin was also seen on video smoking weed inside the building. 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.
“I want to start off by apologizing to the officers I assaulted January 6,” a statement from Sandlin provided to the judge Friday said. “I have to live with my abhorrent actions for the rest of my life and I pray that my sentencing gives you and your families peace and resolution.”
Sandlin went on to write he was “ashamed” and “embarrassed,” calling the Jan. 6 insurrection “a national tragedy.”
Sandlin told 8 News Now he came to Washington, in part, due to his belief in widespread voter fraud. Even before Jan. 6, leaders of both parties, including then-Attorney General Bill Barr, a Republican, said the former president’s claims of fraud were lies.
Sandlin pleaded guilty to charges of conspiracy to obstruct an official proceeding; and assaulting, resisting or impeding certain officers, in September. DeGrave pleaded guilty for his role in the riot in June.
Sandlin, an internet marketer, lived in Las Vegas for several years before moving to Tennessee to be closer to family in 2020. He said he intended to return to Las Vegas soon after. Sandlin had written on social media in January 2021 that he had planned to drive to Washington from Memphis. According to court documents, a post from Sandlin said he was asking for money through a GoFundMe page.
Sandlin said he believed something could be done to overturn the election by going to the Capitol, possibly by swaying lawmakers’ decision to certify the vote, he told the 8 News Now Investigators last year.
“It was a political rally,” he said. “There’s going to be political hyperbole, you know, ‘Give me liberty or give me death.’ We got caught up in the moment. We got caught up in a mob mentality.”
As part of a plea agreement, federal prosecutors are asking a judge to sentence Sandlin to no more than 63 months in prison. Sandlin’s attorney has requested a lesser sentence of 41 months.
Prosecutors allege in September, Sandlin and several other inmates at the jail where he was imprisoned pending sentencing threatened a corrections officer with a chair after that officer pepper sprayed another Jan. 6 inmate, documents said.
During a detention hearing in federal court last year, Sandlin asked a judge to “have mercy on” him. The judge noted Sandlin owes $500,000 in back taxes.
Five people died in the riot, including an officer for the Capitol police. Federal prosecutors have filed charges stemming from the breach against more than 800 people, so far. Damage to the Capitol building was estimated to be around $3 million.
No community where Sandlin is known to have resided, including Las Vegas, can find a record of him voting this past presidential cycle, the 8 News Now Investigators reported last winter. However, Sandlin said he mailed in a ballot.
There is no record of him voting.