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Downstate men get 2 years probation in U.S. Capitol breach case

A prosecutor wrote that Douglas K. Wangler and Bruce J. Harrison received “rare” early offers in which the feds said they would recommend probation in exchange for a guilty plea.

Federal authorities say this photo depicts Bruce J. Harrison (left) and Douglas K. Wangler (right) in the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6.
U.S. District court records

Two Downstate men have been sentenced to two years of probation and must perform 60 hours of community service for their role in the Jan. 6 U.S. Capitol breach, according to the U.S. attorney’s office in Washington, D.C.

Federal authorities filed charges in May against Douglas K. Wangler and Bruce J. Harrison, both of the Danville area. The feds alleged that Wangler could be seen in an 11-second video standing in the Capitol Crypt on Jan. 6, pumping his right fist in the air and chanting, “U.S.A.”

An FBI agent who viewed surveillance footage from the Capitol said he also spotted Wangler with Harrison, who later told authorities he wore a New England Patriots jacket on Jan. 6 because of its patriotic colors. Wangler allegedly told someone separately that, “If walking around and singing some patriotic songs is a crime, then I guess I am guilty.”

Still, the agent wrote in a charging document that “none of the videos I reviewed depict Wangler or Harrison damaging property or participating in other violent acts.” And in a memo filed in court earlier this month, a prosecutor wrote that Wangler and Harrison received two “rare” early offers in which the feds said they would recommend probation in exchange for a guilty plea.

Wangler and Harrison each pleaded guilty in September to misdemeanor parading, demonstrating or picketing in a Capitol building. Their attorney told the Chicago Sun-Times the men “feel extreme remorse.”

The men were sentenced Thursday by U.S. District Judge Dabney L. Friedrich.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Alexis Loeb wrote that Wangler and Harrison “entered the Capitol through an open door that had been breached approximately an hour earlier. Inside the Capitol, the defendants walked to the Crypt and took photographs of themselves. They left about twenty minutes later, through the same door by which they had entered. The government has not found evidence before or after the riot that defendants espoused or excused violence or insurrection.”

Still, Loeb wrote that the judge “should send a message that there cannot be an attack on our Capitol, on our democratic elections, ever again, and that each individual bears responsibility for not turning back, for joining the mob. It is important to convey to future potential rioters — especially those who intend to improperly influence the democratic process — that their actions will have consequences.”

Ultimately, Loeb recommended three years of probation for Wangler and four years of probation for Harrison, who allegedly tried to delete photos and videos from the event.

Wangler and Harrison are the second and third known Illinois residents to be sentenced in the Capitol breach. Bradley Rukstales of Inverness was sentenced in November to 30 days in jail. John and Amy Schubert of Crest Hill, Christian Kulas of Kenilworth and Mark Kulas Jr. of Lake Forest have also pleaded guilty.

In all, at least 19 Illinoisans have faced federal charges tied to the riot.