An Olympic gold medalist was sentenced Friday for participating in the Jan. 6, 2021, events at the U.S. Capitol.
Swimmer Klete Keller, who pleaded guilty in September 2021 to one count of obstructing official proceedings, was reportedly facing 21 months in prison. USA Today. After promising in the plea agreement that he would cooperate with authorities, six additional charges against him, including civil disorder and entering and remaining in a restricted building or grounds, were dismissed.
Two years later, Keller escaped from prison and was sentenced to 36 months of probation and six months of house arrest. Fox News Digital reports
According to the outlet, “Keller admitted in court records that he tried to obstruct Congress's certification of President Biden's Electoral College victory, knocked out officers who tried to remove him from the Capitol rotunda and yelled comments profane about House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer as he stood near officers wearing riot gear.”
He admitted to abandoning the distinctive U.S. Olympic team jacket he wore for the Jan. 6 event and destroying his phone and memory card, which contained photos and videos he had shot inside the Capitol .
Investigators used his 6-foot-6-inch frame, along with screenshots from a viral video, that prominent jacket and his driver's license to identify him.
A week after returning home to Colorado, the swimmer turned himself in to authorities.
“I have no excuse for why I'm standing before you today,” he told the court, according to Fox News Digital. “I understand that my actions were criminal and that I am fully responsible for my conduct.”
Speaking to reporters as they left the courtroom, Keller's attorney, Zachary Deubler, said his client would not comment, but confirmed that he is “very happy,” USA Today reports.
U.S. District Court Judge Richard Leon called the case “one of the most unique” and “perhaps the most unique” criminal cases to come forward on January 6.
Keller, he believed, would better serve society by using his platform to discuss his mistakes and show his remorse.
“I hope you're successful,” Leon told the former freestyle specialist, who along with Michael Phelps and Ryan Lochte swam to gold in 2004 in the 4x200m freestyle relay team.
To which Keller, now 41, replied, “I won't let you down.”
Although prosecutors gave Keller credit for “genuine remorse” for entering the Capitol, they said in a sentencing memorandum that he still deserved prison time.
“A former Olympian with the opportunity to see American ideals up close and represent their position to the world, Keller was uniquely positioned to know better,” they wrote.
Keller, wearing sunglasses and a bandana around his face, entered the Capitol through a west terrace door at 2:39 p.m., prosecutors said. He started chants of “[Expletive] Nancy Pelosi!” and “[Expletive] Chuck Schumer!” they claimed according to USA Today.
He even dared to join the “rioters” in singing the national anthem.
But not everyone online thinks Keller got off easy.
The news of Keller's sentencing is “so depressing,” wrote one X user. “This patriot, gold medalist and man of great caliber is being humiliated and slandered by the political wizards and witches who rule this country. Disease.”
This is so depressing…this patriot, gold medalist and man of great caliber is being humiliated and slandered by the political wizards and witches who rule this country. wrapping
— loveinjune (@BrookeC94151964) December 2, 2023
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