WASHINGTON - One of three active-duty Marines who stormed the U.S. Capitol together was sentenced on Monday to probation and 279 hours of community service — one hour for every Marine who was killed or wounded fighting in the Civil War.
U.S. District Judge Ana Reyes said she can’t fathom why Dodge Hellonen violated his oath to protect the Constitution "against all enemies, foreign and domestic" — and risked his career — by joining the Jan. 6, 2021, riot that disrupted Congress from certifying President Joe Biden’s 2020 electoral victory.
"I really urge you to think about why it happened so you can address it and ensure it never happens again," Reyes said.
Dodge Hellonen, now 24, was the first of the three Marines to be punished for participating in the Capitol siege. Reyes also is scheduled to sentence co-defendants Micah Coomer on Tuesday and Joshua Abate on Wednesday.
The three Marines — friends from the same unit — drove together from a military post in Virginia to Washington, D.C., on Jan. 6, when then-President Donald Trump spoke at his "Stop the Steal" rally near the White House. They joined the crowd that stormed the Capitol after Trump urged his supporters to "fight like hell."
Before imposing Hellonen’s sentence, Reyes described how Marines fought and died in some of the fiercest battles in American history. She recited the number of casualties from some of the bloodiest wars.
Prosecutors recommended short terms of incarceration — 30 days for Coomer and 21 days for Hellonen and Abate — along with 60 hours of community service.
A prosecutor wrote in a court filing that their military service, while laudable, makes their conduct "all the more troubling."
FILE - Police clash with supporters of US President Donald Trump who breached security and entered the Capitol building in Washington D.C., United States on Jan. 06, 2021. (Mostafa Bassim/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
Reyes said she agreed with prosecutors that Hellonen’s status as an active-duty Marine does not weigh in favor of a more lenient sentence. But she ultimately decided to spare him from a prison term, sentencing him to four years of probation.
Reyes said it "carried a great deal of weight" to learn that Hellonen maintained a positive attitude and stellar work ethic when he was effectively demoted after the Jan. 6 attack. He went from working as a signals analyst to a job that few Marines want, inventorying military gear.
"The only person who can give you a second chance is yourself," she told him.
"I take full responsibility for my actions and I’ll carry this with me for the rest of my life," Hellonen told the judge.
Hellonen, Coomer and Abate pleaded guilty earlier this year to parading, demonstrating or picketing in a Capitol building, a misdemeanor punishable by a maximum of six months behind bars. Hundreds of Capitol rioters have pleaded guilty to the same charge, which is akin to trespassing.
Hellonen was carrying a yellow "Don’t Tread on Me" flag when they entered the Capitol through a door that other rioters had breached about seven minutes earlier.
After walking to the Rotunda, they placed a red "Make America Great Again" hat on a statute and took photos of it. They remained inside the Capitol for nearly an hour, joining other rioters in chanting "Stop the Steal!" and "Four More Years!"
None of them is accused of engaging in any violence or destruction on Jan. 6. But prosecutors said none of them has expressed sincere remorse for their crimes.
Coomer bragged on social media about taking part in "history," called for a "fresh start" and said he was "waiting for the boogaloo," a slang term for a second civil war in the U.S.
Coomer’s statement that he was "hoping for a second civil war to topple what he viewed as a ‘corrupt’ government was deeply ominous, given that his military training and access to military weapons would make him a particularly effective participant in such a war against the government," the prosecutor wrote.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.