A federal judge sentenced a former Schaumburg CEO to 30 days in jail Friday for his role in the Jan. 6 U.S. Capitol breach.
U.S. District Judge Carl J. Nichols also ordered Bradley Rukstales of Inverness to pay $500 in restitution.
“I am sorry for my actions that day and accept the court’s decision,” Rukstales wrote in a statement that followed his sentencing.
“I have come to realize the weight of my actions, and immensely regret following others into the Capitol. As a patriotic citizen, I hope and pray that the people of our nation will move forward united by the many commonalities we share,” he said.
Rukstales also said the support he’s received from family, friends and colleagues is “proof that one brief and thoughtless moment does not need to define a person’s entire life.”
Prosecutors asked the judge earlier this month to sentence Rukstales to 45 days behind bars, insisting “there were signs of a violent riot everywhere” at the Capitol on Jan. 6, and Rukstales “willingly joined it.”
Rukstales’ attorney asked for probation, calling Rukstales’ regret and remorse “sincere and genuine,” and noting that Rukstales was forced to quickly leave his job and sell his ownership stake in a company “he launched and loved.”
“That day, I made a terrible decision by entering the Capitol,” Rukstales wrote in a letter to the judge. “As someone who has great respect for the law, police, and our public servants, I am deeply embarrassed and sorry for my actions.”
Rukstales was the first person from Illinois to be charged in the breach, and in August he became the first Illinois resident to plead guilty to his role in the riot. He is now also the first Illinoisan to be sentenced as part of the massive government prosecution that followed. He lost his job as CEO of the Schaumburg tech firm Cogensia after he was charged in January.
At least 15 additional Illinois residents face charges stemming from the incident. Two from Downstate, Bruce Harrison and Douglas Wangler, have also pleaded guilty and face sentencing Dec. 16.
Rukstales admitted that he threw a chair in the direction of officers who had previously retreated and formed a defensive line. The officers “were not in danger of being hit by the chair he threw,” according to a statement of offense that accompanied Rukstales’ guilty plea.
In a filing Thursday, attorney David Benowitz insisted Rukstales “engaged in no violence against police officers” despite tossing the chair. Rukstales also had to be brought to the ground to be arrested, and prosecutors said three officers were needed to take him into custody.
The feds accused Rukstales of making “a spectacle of himself” and noted that, “the rioters’ ability to overtake law enforcement on January 6 was a result of law enforcement being dramatically outnumbered. Rukstales directly contributed to that by necessitating at least three officers to get him under control.”
But Benowitz wrote that, when Rukstales threw the chair, “there were no officers close enough to even be in his immediate line of sight, and the chair was not directed at anyone.” He added that Rukstales’ “inability to quickly get to his feet after being taken to the ground by the police with great force was absolutely not intentional resistance.”
In his letter to the judge, Rukstales wrote that, “without getting into the details of my political beliefs and ideology, it is important for the court to understand that I believe in civic engagement.”
“It is also fair to say that I was personally frustrated and concerned with our country’s political discourse after the 2020 election,” he wrote. “When I learned about the rally on January 6, it seemed to me that momentum was growing, and that the event would be an important constitutional moment in our republic’s history. That is why I came to Washington, D.C., on that day, and brought my family.”
He said he hoped, as he approached a Capitol door, that there would be a legitimate reason to enter “but I knew that it was not right.” He also wrote that “being thrust into a public discourse as a quiet, private person has been devastating.”
“Your honor,” he wrote, “I can say — clearly — that I should not have gone to the Capitol on January 6, and should not have allowed my emotions to get the better of me.”