Cameron Hess of Cleona was sentenced on Feb. 26 to nine months in a federal prison for his role in the violent attack on Jan. 6, 2021, on the U.S. Capitol by supporters of then-President Donald Trump, who falsely claimed that he had won the 2020 election.

Following his release from prison, 27-year-old Hess will undergo three years of supervised release. He must also pay $2,000 in restitution toward the over $2.8 million damage he and other rioters did to the Capitol,

The sentence was imposed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia by Senior Judge Royce Lamberth. It followed Hess’s October guilty plea to a single felony charge of civil disorder. As part of the deal, prosecutors agreed to drop seven other charges.

The charge carried a maximum five-year sentence. Prosecutors had asked for a 12-month jail term, while Hess had sought home confinement without incarceration.

In his written plea agreement and Statement of Offense (PDF) filed with the court, Hess admitted to being part of a mob that forced its way into the Capitol in an attempt to prevent Congress from certifying Joe Biden’s 2020 electoral college victory.

Hess admitted that he unlawfully entered the Capitol rotunda twice, assaulting federal officers the second time, and that photos and video showed him struggling against officers trying to close an entrance door, and wiping pepper spray from his eyes.

Hess also admitted sending text messages on Jan. 6 saying “people storming the Capitol” and that he was “in the thick of it.” That evening, he said “I was brawling at the door.” Several days later, he sent another text to an unnamed recipient saying, “Don’t tell anyone I was there.”

In a sentencing memorandum filed by his court-appointed attorney, Elita Amato, Hess asked to be sentenced to six months of home confinement, rather than jail, followed by one year of probation.

Amato argued in the memorandum that Hess was a sickly and often hospitalized child who suffered from a number of diseases, including IPEX syndrome, an autoimmune disorder. This, Amato argued, led her client to endure long periods of isolation and affected “his development and his ability to navigate social situations effectively.”

Amato described Hess on Jan. 6, 2021 as an “immature 23 year old who got caught up in the heat of the moment, the frenzy of the crowd, and stepped into the US Capitol and tried to push his way past the door entrance….”

Amato argued that Hess “is a very different person now than he was on January 6, 2021,” noting that “he was employed, working in various capacities on boats. After his arrest, he resigned from working on American Cruise Lines as a deckhand. This was very hard for him as he realized he ‘love[d] … working on boats,’ and hopes when this case is finally over he can once again pursue a career connected to boating.”

Hess wrote a letter directly to the judge, stating in part “[a]s for my actions on January 6th, I am solely responsible for and was not coerced by any individuals to act the way that I did. For these actions, I am very ashamed and apologetic for. I am also very sorry to any individuals or groups that were harmed by my actions. On that day, I was drawn in by the crowd and gave in to mob mentality.”

In an email to LebTown shortly after the sentence was imposed, Amato said that Hess was accompanied in the courtroom by his mother, and that “Cameron expressed his sincere apology for his actions on January 6. Since January 6, his focus has been on his personal growth and he has made great strides towards his goals.”

Other Lebanon countians charged for Capitol insurrection

Hess is one of four Lebanon County residents to face Jan. 6 insurrection charges, and the third to plead guilty or be convicted at trial.

In September 2021, Myerstown resident Terry Brown pleaded guilty to a single misdemeanor and was sentenced to 36 months of probation, with the first month on house arrest.

Leo Brent Bozell IV of Palmyra was found guilty of 10 felony counts after a non-jury trial last September. His sentencing is set for April 4.

Joseph Fischer, a former North Cornwall Township police officer, has pleaded not guilty and is awaiting trial on a number of Jan. 6 charges. One of those charges was dismissed by the U.S. District Court, but reinstated by the U.S. Court of Appeals. At Fischer’s request, the U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to review the Appeals Court decision.

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Chris Coyle writes primarily on government, the courts, and business. He retired as an attorney at the end of 2018, after concentrating for nearly four decades on civil and criminal litigation and trials. A career highlight was successfully defending a retired Pennsylvania state trooper who was accused,...


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