HELENA — On Thursday, Andrew Michael Cavanaugh of the Bozeman area was sentenced in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia for misdemeanor parading, demonstrating and picketing in the Capitol building on Jan. 6, 2021.
Judge Amit P. Mehta ordered Cavanaugh to 24 months of probation and 60 hours of community service. Cavanaugh entered into a plea agreement and pleaded guilty in February.
Cavanaugh was identified at the Capitol Riot from a video posted to the social media app Parler on Jan. 6. He was seen in a camouflage baseball cap with the logo for "Tactical Citizen," a Belgrade-based business founded and owned by Cavanaugh.
Court documents say Cavanaugh is a decorated Marine veteran who served as embassy security while with the military.
The prosecution argued his unique experience serving as embassy security meant he could recognize better than anyone the criminality of his actions on Jan. 6 and how overwhelmed Capitol Police were that day. The government argued for a 30-day prison sentence.
Cavanaugh said he entered the building that day because he was looking for a friend, although he also admitted to participating in yelling and demonstrating while inside. The Bozeman veteran also noted his actions that day have already caused him great damage to his reputation in his community and with his family.
The defense noted that although Cavanaugh trespassed, he took no actions to cause harm, injure or escalate the situation.
In emotional testimony, Cavanaugh said he truly regretted his actions and hopes his country can unify soon. He added that after serving in Iraq and Afghanistan he never thought his country would be so politically divided.
Mehta agreed that Cavanaugh probably knew better than anyone else that day just what Capitol Police were facing on Jan. 6, but noted that Cavanaugh did not use his military experience to further cause harm to the Capitol.
The judge also pondered why a large number of Jan. 6 suspects like Cavanaugh, who had no prior criminal actions and honorable service, would have participated in the riot in the first place. Mehta stated it was likely because they were lied to about the integrity of the election and their faith in their leaders was abused.
Mehta also ordered Cavanaugh to pay $500 in restitution to the government for damages the Capitol building sustained during the riot. Court documents say the Capitol Building and grounds suffered an estimated $1.5 million in damages during the riot.
Cavanaugh is the second Montanan to be sentenced for alleged actions at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.