Law enforcement official running for New York governor calls for leniency for January 6 rioter
A candidate seeking the Republican nomination for governor of New York wrote and signed a letter on official letterhead seeking leniency for a state resident who pleaded guilty to entering a restricted building on Capitol grounds during the January 6 attack.
In his letter to the judge, Lewis County, New York, sheriff Michael Carpinelli wrote that he was putting his "title and reputation" at stake in asking the court for leniency for his "good friend" William Tryon. Tryon, 71, pleaded guilty in October to the misdemeanor charge of entering a restricted building on Capitol grounds on January 6, 2021. Tryon submitted Carpnelli's letter, along with six dozen other character letters from friends and members of the community, as he sought a sentence that spared him from prison.
On Friday, a judge sentenced Tryon to 50 days in jail, nearly twice as long as the sentence recommended by prosecutors. Tryon, a farmer from upstate New York, was also ordered to pay a $1,000 fine.
Though several January 6 defendants have submitted character references and letters of recommendation in their requests for leniency, they are often from friends, relatives, employers or church leaders. Carpinelli's letter is particularly distinctive, because it was written on official Lewis County, New York, government letterhead and by an elected official.
Carpinelli has announced his candidacy for the Republican nomination for governor of New York in 2022. He faces an uphill battle in that primary against well-funded Trump ally Congressman Lee Zeldin of Long Island as well as former Westchester County executive Rob Astorino, former construction and automotive business owner Derrick Gibson and Andrew Giuliani, the son of close Trump associate Rudy Giuliani.
Carpinelli, who was reelected sheriff in Lewis County in 2019, told CBS News, "I have known Mr. Tryon for some time and consider him a close friend. He has a strong passion in his heart for our country as do I. Sometimes that may cloud our good intentions, not meaning any harm. There was no harm. I would do the same for any citizen that I have known who has honor, respect and a good heart towards humanity."
Prosecutors sought a jail sentence for Tryon, even though they have not done so in all of the misdemeanor plea deals cut in U.S. Capitol attack cases. In their sentencing memo to the court, prosecutors said, "Tryon is one of a much smaller group of rioters because he was expressly told by law enforcement officers that he could not enter the Capitol Building. He stood at the front of a mob that faced off with law enforcement officers at the entry to the Capitol. Tryon intentionally disregarded the officers because his intent to either interfere with or disrupt the Congressional proceedings was greater than compliance with the instructions given to him."
Prosecutors also said, "Once outside the Capitol, Tryon encouraged other rioters and attempted to rally the crowd on the grounds of the Capitol by standing atop a vehicle with a microphone and chanting the lyrics of the song 'We're Not Gonna Take It' by rock group, Twisted Sister. He also celebrated the riot by posing for a video."
In addition to Carpinelli's letter, Tryon submitted character letters from several church leaders and friends from upstate New York.
Carpinelli told CBS News he has not received any feedback from his constituents about the letter, which was posted on a federal court website late last week, but was not publicly released. Lewis County, New York, voters heavily favored former President Donald Trump, by nearly a 3-to-1 margin, in the 2020 general election, according to county elections records.
According to CBS News review of court filings in Capitol breach criminal cases, fewer than 200 of the approximately 700 federal defendants have entered into plea agreements with federal prosecutors.
Tryon's defense lawyer did not immediately respond to requests for comment about the letter.
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