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Former Olympic swimmer Klete Keller sentenced to home confinement in Jan. 6 case

Keller “was in a unique position to know better” than to act the way he did during the Capitol riot, prosecutors said.
jan 6 rioter rioters attack on capitol 2021
Klete Derik Keller, a former Olympian, at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia

WASHINGTON — A two-time Olympic gold medalist who stormed the U.S. Capitol during the Jan. 6 attack was sentenced to six months of home confinement on Friday.

Klete Keller was arrested in January 2021, and pleaded guilty in September 2021 to a felony charge of obstruction of an official proceeding. His sentencing was deferred because of his cooperation.

U.S. District Judge Richard J. Leon sentenced Keller to 36 months probation, the first six of which will be on home confinement.

Prosecutors had asked for a sentence of 10 months in federal prison, saying that while Keller’s actions were “unconscionable,” he provided extensive cooperation with the government and deserves a sentence below the guideline range.

“Klete Derik Keller once wore the American flag as an Olympian,” prosecutors wrote in a sentencing memo. “On January 6, 2021, he threw that flag in a trash can.”

But, they wrote, for “nearly three years, Keller has cooperated with the government’s investigation into the attack on the Capitol — repeatedly meeting with the government to describe everyone around him and everything that happened leading up to and on Jan. 6. He has provided substantial assistance and has expressed remorse for his crimes.”

Keller chanted “F--k Nancy Pelosi!” and “F--k Chuck Schumer!” while inside the building, and “repeatedly resisted officers’ attempts to remove him from the building, at one point jerking his elbow away,” according to prosecutors. Afterward, he threw his USA jacket away and destroyed his cellphone.

What Keller did, prosecutors wrote, “will forever be a stain on this country’s narrative, and it continues to impact our ability to credibly lead by example as a democratic republic.” As a former Olympian, they added, Keller “was in a unique position to know better.”

jan 6 rioter rioters attack on capitol 2021
Klete Derik Keller, a former Olympian, at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia

Keller is 6’6” and over 250 pounds, and had an “imposing physical presence” when he joined the mob, prosecutors said. He ripped his elbow away as officers tried to clear the mob from the Capitol rotunda, prosecutors said.

“Take it easy!” he yelled. “Why do we have to leave?”

In a letter to the court, Keller apologized for his actions, saying he made “bad choices on that terrible day” and was going through a lot in his personal life. He said he knew he should not have entered the Capitol, but thought of it as an act of civil disobedience.

“I shouted out obnoxious, hostile slogans at law enforcement officers who were doing their job to protect Congress,” Keller wrote. “When I got back to the hotel, I felt sick after seeing myself in the news footage. I saw the same clip on the flight back to Colorado. It pained me to see such terrible chaos, damage, and harm.”

“I apologize to the Capitol police officers, legislators, staffers, and other government personnel who were in the Capitol doing their jobs,” he wrote. “I apologize to the voters and citizens of our great country, and I regret that my actions disrupted and tarnished the democratic process. I am sorry about all the harm, damage, and pointless violence done on that awful day. To everyone I disappointed when I broke the law, I apologize.”

More than 1,200 people have been charged in connection with the Capitol riot, and more than 400 have been sentenced to various periods of incarceration.

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