A once-aspiring Proud Boy from Camden County was sentenced Friday to two weeks’ incarceration for his role in the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol riot.
Lawrence Earl Stackhouse III, 33, of Blackwood, had texted a friend the week before the insurrection asking for an application to join the group. He was wearing a Proud Boys hoodie as he followed the mob past the smashed windows of the Capitol building and through the kicked-in door of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office.
“I ruined my life with my dumb decisions,” he told U.S. District Judge Beryl A. Howell during a court hearing in Washington. “I regret getting involved in politics at all. I regret allowing it to fry my brain.”
But Howell showed little sympathy and balked at Stackhouse’s explanation that he had no real interest in the Proud Boys and had only been wearing the organization’s regalia because the colors matched his outfit.
That “sounds like a bit of a made-up, after-the-fact explanation,” she said. “Wearing a Proud Boys logo was a choice.”
The sentence Howell imposed — which also included a three-year term of probation, three months’ house arrest, and $500 in restitution — was less than half of the 45-day jail term that prosecutors had originally sought.
Stackhouse, a former sheet metal worker who lost jobs with government contractors like Boeing and Lockheed Martin after his arrest, pleaded guilty to one misdemeanor count of illegally parading or demonstrating on Capitol grounds last year.
He is the second of 26 New Jersey defendants to face sentencing for participating in the attack, which threatened the peaceful transition of power, injured scores of officers, caused millions in damage, and has led to more than 820 arrests.
Federal prosecutors have described the Proud Boys, a militant, far-right organization, as one of the primary instigators of the violence that day. Several of the group’s top leaders — including the president of its Philadelphia chapter, Zachary Rehl — have been charged with sedition for the pivotal role they allegedly played that day in riling up the crowd of Trump supporters.
Stackhouse maintains he never followed through on becoming a Proud Boys member, despite the interest he’d expressed, and has no interest in joining now.
Still, prosecutors pointed to a chain of text messages eight days before the riot between Stackhouse and a man they’ve described as a Proud Boys prospect — Michael Gianos, 33, of Marlton.
Stackhouse and Gianos had previously participated in protests together over New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy’s pandemic shutdown orders at the Atilis Gym in Bellmawr. And as they made plans to travel to Washington on Jan. 6, Gianos wrote: “We’re going to be going after Antifa.”
Stackhouse replied: “Full force … Jan. 6 is going to be awesome.”
In texts with another charged rioter — Rachel Myers, 33, of Port Richmond and an employee of Delilah’s Gentlemen’s Club & Steakhouse in South Philadelphia — Stackhouse offered to bring a knife when she said she looked forward to fighting with counterprotesters.
“Love it!” she said. “Love me some PBs.”
Assistant U.S. Attorney April Ayers-Perez cited those texts as evidence that Stackhouse went to Washington prepared for violence.
Surveillance footage from inside the Capitol shows that as Stackhouse, Gianos, and Myers entered the building on Jan. 6, they passed rioters brawling with officers and people smashing windows and doors.
With Stackhouse in his Proud Boys hoodie and Myers carrying a Delilah’s backpack, they pushed their way inside through the Senate Wing doors and milled about the Rotunda briefly before following a man who had kicked in the door to Pelosi’s office, where her terrified staff cowered under desks inside.
In text messages afterward, the trio veered between reveling in their participation in the attack and fretting over whether the FBI would soon show up at their doors.
“Don’t regret one thing,” Stackhouse texted on Jan. 7. “F — the government.”
When photos later surfaced online of Myers on Capitol grounds with her Delilah’s backpack, he reached out to allay her concerns.
It was Stackhouse’s coworkers who turned him in. He’d previously been reprimanded at work for expressing support for an unspecified “hate group,” according to an FBI affidavit filed in his case. Agents said Stackhouse had boasted to coworkers about his participation in the riot.
But as investigators interviewed him upon his arrest last year, he maintained that he and the others had been let into the building by police waving them past barricades and that he had no idea that the mob had forcefully smashed their way inside minutes before he arrived — a claim later disproved by video from the scene.
“He created this picture of a rosy, peaceful protest and overzealous police officers, and that couldn’t be further from the truth,” Ayers-Perez said in court Friday. “I don’t believe [he has] remorse. I don’t believe [he’s] accepting responsibility.”
Stackhouse’s attorney, Ubong E. Akpan, maintained that her client had been misled. He’d traveled to Washington, she said, genuinely believing that Vice President Mike Pence could overturn the 2020 election results, and that public pressure in the form of the crowds in the Capitol was part of that process.
“Mr. Stackhouse is not a villain,” she said. “He’s a young man who has a family who loves him, who cares deeply for him. It’s important to know he’s not a lone wolf waiting in the wings in the bushes to attack any members of Congress.”
Investigators have charged Gianos and Myers separately. Both have entered not guilty pleas and are awaiting trial.
For his part, Stackhouse said he’s ready to put the experience behind him.
“I never fully understood what I was getting myself into,” he told Howell. “I went along with the flow, and it screwed me.”