WASHINGTON (WIVB) — In an emotional statement before his sentencing, Daniel Warmus said he was sorry for taking part in the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol. He said that he is not proud of his decision to enter the building with a mob of people angry over the results of the presidential election.
“I’m sorry for the people I let down that day,” Warmus said. “‘Sorry’ doesn’t change the past or even what I did, but I will say, I definitely learned a hard lesson, a valuable lesson.”
But on Tuesday, by teleconference, U.S. District Judge Paul L. Friedman didn’t buy much of the apology. He sentenced Warmus to 45 days behind bars and two years of probation. The judge also ordered him to pay $500 in restitution and serve 60 hours of community service.
Friedman said that a significant factor in the sentence—longer than what prosecutors had requested—was that Warmus continues to be a problem for law enforcement and government officials by recording them in public spaces. As a result, the judge also imposed a restriction on Warmus that he cannot enter any law enforcement building without first getting permission.
In May, Warmus pleaded guilty to willfully and knowingly parading, demonstrating, or picketing inside the Capitol, a misdemeanor. Prosecutors sought a jail sentence of 30 days and probation, arguing that Warmus has not shown any “meaningful contrition” for his actions on that day.
They said that said Warmus—wearing a black hoodie reading “CNN is Fake News”—was among the first to enter the Rotunda in the Capitol. But his attorney, Daniel Dubois, said Warmus has changed a lot since that day in Washington, D.C., and truly understands that his actions were wrong.
Even so, prosecutors said Warmus continues to “harass” law enforcement and government officials by recording and posting videos of him entering government buildings, such as city halls and police stations. He records any interactions he has with various public officials, some of which get heated.
In fact, Kathryn E. Fifield, the prosecutor, deemed Warmus a threat to the community and said he has continued to show a “brazen disrespect” to the courts, rule of law, and law enforcement, which “completely dispels the notion that this defendant is a changed man.” Fifield added, “This conduct mirrors exactly what Mr. Warmus is doing on January 6.”
NEWS10’s sister station in Buffalo featured Warmus several times in stories about rising “First Amendment audits.” He posts public videos on the “Auditing Erie County” Youtube Channel with over 41,000 subscribers. Warmus has said the audits are his attempt to bridge the divide between law enforcement, government officials, and the public.
To Warmus, he is exercising his First Amendment right to record in public spaces and testing authorities on those rights. To others, he is agitating government officials and law enforcement in an attempt to escalate the encounters for more clicks on his YouTube channel to make more money.
The judge did not have a positive view of Warmus’s auditing activity. “I have to agree with the prosecutor that this shows further disrespect for the rule of law,” Friedman said.
Warmus’s attorney said his client has never been arrested or charged for his audit activity and that he has posted many videos that show positive interactions with law enforcement. “There are going to be departments and police officers who are no doubt going to be agitated by his existence,” Dubois said. “There are also many police officers who welcome his existence.”
The judge and prosecutor also took offense to Warmus sometimes including the names and office phone numbers of government officials on the videos. Tohear Fifield tell it, Warmus is calling his YouTube followers to action, harassing specific public officials. She highlighted his recent visit to Rochester’s government building, where he was told that recording without permission is not allowed, and security asked him to leave.
Fifield said that at least one of those government officials received threatening calls and emails from people believed to be followers of Warmus, and that Warmus even warned on the video that the Rochester officials “are going to be in for a whooping” because his followers would not be happy with him being ordered to leave the building. “His capacity to mobilize others should be a factor” in his sentencing, Fifield said.
As for Warmus’s participating in the January 6 attack, Fifield said his actions demand punishment that will act as a deterrence. She said that the fact that Warmus was one of the first people to enter the Rotunda meant he would have been subjected to crowd control and dispersal orders in the midst of a crowd of people screaming and throwing objects at law enforcement.
She said Warmus should have witnessed enough red flags during his 15 minutes inside the Capitol to turn around, but he didn’t. Instead, she argued, his level of calmness showed his incapability to think rationally. “He had multiple opportunities to turn around and he proceeded again and again and again,” Fifield said.