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Man who took Pelosi's podium during Capitol riot sentenced to prison

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The man who went viral for taking House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's lectern during the Capitol riot on January 6, 2021, has been sentenced to more than two months behind bars. On Friday, U.S. District Court Judge Reggie B. Walton sentenced Adam Johnson to 75 days in prison followed by one year supervised release. 

The judge also ordered Johnson to pay a $5,000 fine and perform 200 hours of community service. 

In court, Johnson admitted that posing with Pelosi's lectern was a "very stupid idea" and said he bears "no ill will toward her or her office at all," according to The Associated Press. His lawyers said he didn't know the item was Pelosi's when he moved it from a cloak room.

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Adam Johnson carries the lectern of U.S. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi through the Rotunda of the U.S. Capitol Building. Getty Images

Judge Walton compared the events of January 6 to "we see in banana republics," with citizens who believe they "have a right to do whatever in order to have the person who they want in power sitting in the White House." 

"That's what we see in countries like we're experiencing now over in Ukraine. That's where we're headed if we don't do something to stop it. And I don't know what we do to stop it," he said. 

Last year, Johnson pleaded guilty to entering and remaining in a restricted building or grounds, a Class A misdemeanor, following his involvement in the siege on the Capitol building. He claimed he entered peacefully and was not an agitator. "I truly believe it was my responsibility as a citizen," he said, according court documents.

Once Johnson breached the Capitol building with other rioters, he allegedly stole and carried the House speaker's lectern to the Rotunda for a "photo op." In the days following the insurrection, he texted friends and family about it and bragged that he "broke the internet," prosecutors say. 

In the texts, he allegedly wrote he was "finally famous" — apparently referencing the photo of himself that went viral. Many memes were birthed from the image, with some dubbing Johnson "Chip Gaines" for his resemblance to the former HGTV star. 

Prosecutors said Johnson also planned to write a book about the events, and they argued that he should not "profit from his illegal conduct." They told the court Johnson and his family have a favorable financial situation, as his wife is a doctor and he has not had to work for 11 years, and argued that he "can afford a substantial fine to reimburse taxpayers for his part in the mob that caused significant damage to the United States Capitol." 

In a sentencing memo released earlier this week, federal prosecutors requested a 90-day prison sentence. 

In court documents, Johnson's lawyers said "he deeply regrets his participation in the breach of the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021," and that the "damage and violence inflicted on that date by others is contrary to everything he believes in."

CBS News has reached out to Johnson's lawyers and the Department of Justice for comment on the sentencing.

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