A District of Columbia federal judge on Friday, May 17, sentenced Palmyra resident Leo Brent “Zeeker” Bozell IV to three years and nine months in prison for his role in the violent Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol.

He has also been ordered to pay $4,729, representing his share of damage done by rioters to the Capitol and costs incurred by the Capitol Police in defending the building on Jan.6.

Bozell, who has been free on his own recognizance since his arrest, will remain free until ordered by the U.S. Marshals Service to report to a designated federal prison on a designated date.

Federal prosecutors had asked for an 11 1/2-year sentence, based on a terrorism enhancement in the federal sentencing guidelines, which the judge declined to apply. Bozell’s attorneys asked for 2 1/2 years.

Bozell, 44, was part of the violent mob of supporters of former President Donald Trump that broke into the Capitol in an attempt to keep Congress from certifying Joe Biden as the winner of the November 2020 presidential election.

More than 100 police officers were injured in the attack, which resulted in damage to the Capitol building and costs to the Capitol Police exceeding $2.9 million.

After a September 2023 non-jury trial, where Bozell testified in his defense, U.S. Senior District Judge John Bates found Bozell guilty of 10 criminal charges, including obstructing an official proceeding, destruction of government property, civil disorder, and assaulting, resisting, or impeding officers.

Bozell, son of nationally known Republican activist Brent Bozell III, was identified at the insurrection by a Hershey Christian Academy hoodie he was wearing.

Shortly after Bozell’s arrest, Hershey Christian denied that he was ever affiliated with the school.

Federal prosecutors describe Bozell as a leader of Jan. 6 events

Prior to sentencing, federal prosecutors submitted a sentencing memorandum (pdf) arguing that “there are few rioters on January 6 who were involved in as many pivotal breaches as Bozell.”

Citing trial testimony plus video and photographic evidence, prosecutors noted that Bozell:

“… positioned himself at the forefront of the mob during pivotal moments of the attack as he actively and aggressively propelled the momentum of the mob from the Senate Wing Doors—where he personally created entry points for hundreds of rioters—all the way to the Senate Chamber, which he occupied, rendering it impossible for Congress to meet. Bozell participated in—and often led—a series of critical breaches on January 6: the police line under the scaffolding (2:00 p.m.); the police line on the landing of the Northwest Stairs (2:09 p.m.); the final police line at the top of the Northwest Stairs (2:11 p.m.); the initial breach of the Capitol building at the Senate Wing Doors (2:12 p.m.); the police line near the Carriage Door (2:21 p.m.); the East Rotunda Doors (2:38 p.m.); the Senate Gallery (2:42 p.m.), and the Senate Floor (2:49 p.m.).

(Trial Exhibit, U.S. Attorney Sentencing Memorandum)
(Trial Exhibit, U.S. Attorney Sentencing Memorandum)
(Trial Exhibit, U.S. Attorney sentencing memorandum)

Trial evidence also established that Bozell, one of the first rioters to break in to the Senate chambers, pointed a video camera toward the floor to keep it from recording the invaders, and directed other rioters in the Senate gallery to point other cameras down.

Bozell denies intent to harm, says he was swept up by the crowd; texts show otherwise

Bozell maintained at trial and in his sentencing memorandum (PDF) that “he did not arrive that day with any intention to commit violence or to destroy property.” Instead, as many other Jan. 6 defendants have done, he claimed that he “got swept up with the crowd and ‘crossed a line.'”

However, federal prosecutors cited text messages Bozell sent to his brother the day before the riot saying that he would be going to D.C. “to throw them all out,” that he would be bringing “lighters and fire starters,” and that he would be “tossing [Democratic Congressman Adam] Schiff’s office.”

Judge Bates also noted that Bozell sent a pre-Jan. 6 text message saying, “Let’s just take the Capitol and hang these pedosatanist traitors.” (PDF)

Bozell admitted in his sentencing memorandum that he “participated in disrupting police lines and unlawfully entering the U.S. Capitol,” “used a bike rack as a ladder to climb partway up a wall and handed items, including a long white pole to rioters on the Northwest stairs,” “moved to a set of two windows directly north of the Senate Wing Doors and struck it repeatedly until the glass shattered,” and “did rip down the tarp from the [Capitol] scaffolding” to gain entrance to the building for himself and fellow rioters.

Judge finds Bozell’s trial testimony not credible

Bates didn’t buy Bozell’s trial testimony that his text messages claiming that the election was stolen, urging others to go to the Capitol on Jan. 6, and mentioning “taking the Capitol” were, as Bozell insisted, “silly conversations” with family and friends. Bates said that “the sentiments expressed in these messages track Mr. Bozell’s actual conduct on January 6: He did in fact smash windows, storm the Capitol, and help to delay the certification of the 2020 election.”

In his guilty verdict, announced from the bench at the trial’s end, Bates was blunt in his assessment of Bozell’s testimony.

“I find that Mr. Bozell was not a credible witness on several fronts. Many of his explanations of his conduct before and on Jan. 6 defy both the video evidence and common sense.

“I do not find Mr. Bozell’s contrary claims regarding his intent to be credible. In particular, I do not credit his claim that he came to a split-second decision to enter the Capitol building only after smashing the second window.”

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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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