North Shore brothers get probation, home detention for joining US Capitol riot
Prosecutors said the men entered the Capitol through doors that had been forced open 13 minutes earlier, and then they spent 25 minutes inside the building. They said Christian Kulas watched and laughed as rioters stormed the building.
Two North Shore brothers who joined the Jan. 6, 2021, riot at the U.S. Capitol avoided prison time when they were sentenced by a federal judge Tuesday.
U.S. District Senior Judge Thomas Hogan instead sentenced Christian Kulas and Mark Kulas Jr. to six months of probation, including two months of home detention. In doing so, he noted that neither man joined in the violence that day.
“You did not destroy anything,” Hogan told Mark Kulas Jr. “You did not attack anybody.”
However, prosecutors said the men entered the Capitol through doors that had been forced open 13 minutes earlier, and then they spent 25 minutes inside the building. They said Christian Kulas watched and laughed as rioters stormed the building and later raised his arms to cheer when rioters broke open a door inside.
On Tuesday, both brothers apologized to the judge before learning his sentence.
“I make no excuses for my behavior and I take full responsibility for what I did on that day,” Christian Kulas said. “My intention is to move on from this with grace and dignity.”
They pleaded guilty in December to parading, demonstrating or picketing in a Capitol building, a misdemeanor.
At least 27 Illinois residents have so far been charged for their role in the breach of the Capitol. Seven of those, including the Kulas brothers, have been sentenced. But so far only Bradley Rukstales of Inverness has been given any time behind bars.
A judge sentenced Rukstales to 30 days in jail, and records show he has served his time.
Prosecutors say the Kulas brothers stayed at the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C., the night before the breach. Christian Kulas took video of the “Stop the Steal” rally near the National Mall on Jan. 6, 2021, and later broadcast it on his Instagram account.
The men then joined a crowd walking to the Capitol. There, Christian Kulas recorded video of people scaling the walls. Then, as he and his brother walked up the Capitol steps with a group of rioters, Christian Kulas also recorded video of himself laughing and published it on social media, records show.
The brothers entered the Capitol through the Senate Wing Doors at 2:26 p.m., 13 minutes after other rioters had broken them open, prosecutors said. Inside, they visited the Capitol Rotunda and the Rotunda lobby, where they watched rioters break open another door. The feds say both men smiled, and Christian Kulas raised his arms to cheer.
They eventually left the building around 2:50 p.m. and reentered for about a minute at 2:52 p.m.
The brothers’ defense attorneys filed heavily redacted memos ahead of Tuesday’s sentencing, and the judge acknowledged the brothers have suffered from mental health issues.
The defense attorneys also told the judge the Kulas family has “received vicious hate mail and threats, have witnessed their images repeatedly plastered across TV, print, and international media outlets, and have lost their privacy to drones flying over their home and reporters with camera crews knocking on their door.”
They wrote that the family cleaning business has suffered and that the brothers’ parents “do not deserve the barrage of disgusting and hateful threats, postings, letters, and email messages they have received in connection with this case.”