By Melanie Lekocevic
Capital Region Independent Media
SELKIRK — A Selkirk man who pleaded guilty to one charge in connection with the Jan. 6, 2021, riot at the U.S. Capitol in Washington has been sentenced after dozens of letters attesting to his character were submitting to the court on his behalf.
Among them was a letter from Coeymans Town Supervisor George McHugh.
William Tryon, 71, was sentenced Jan. 14 after pleading guilty to one charge of Entering and Remaining in a Restricted Building or Grounds. Tryon and his attorney, Joel Abelove, signed the Statement of Offense pleading guilty to the charge on Aug. 23 from Acting U.S. Attorney Channing D. Phillips and Assistant U.S. Attorney Anita Eve.
Tryon was sentenced Jan. 14 to 50 days in jail, along with a $1,000 fine.
In the Statement of Offense, Tryon acknowledged that “the riot that occurred on January 6, 2021, caused as of May 17, 2021, approximately $1,495,326.55 damage to the United States Capitol” and also agreed to pay additional restitution in the amount of $500 to the Architect of the Capitol.
Dozens of letters were submitted to Judge Reggie B. Walton of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia on Tryon’s behalf attesting to his character and asking for leniency.
McHugh’s letter, dated Dec. 14, was written on stationary from his Ravena-based law firm.
“I saw that Bill took responsibility for his actions by pleading guilty, and I sent a letter to the Judge as part of the court review of each person before sentencing,” McHugh said Wednesday. “I have known Bill for a number of years, and like others who participated with letters in the proceeding, I wanted to tell the court what I knew about Bill, his life here, and how he interacts with his neighbors.”
“Bill is a 71-year-old man who has been a member of our community for decades and it is important that a full picture be given of him, especially since he owned up to what happened on January 6th,” McHugh continued. “As a veteran, an attorney, and an elected official, I take the rule of law very seriously, just as I do take seriously any requests to provide what amounts to a character reference as part of a court proceeding. As I stated this time last year, January 6th, 2021, was a sad day for all Americans, and certainly a dark day for America.”
In McHugh’s letter to the judge, he asked for a fair sentencing and said he has always found Tryon to be “an honest, hardworking, law-abiding citizen and devoted family man, with a passion for his community and country.”
McHugh, a U.S. Army veteran who served as a judge advocate and military judge, stated in his letter that he was surprised by the charges and as a veteran found the riot at the Capitol “not only appalling but also very personal.”
“I would not write a character letter for someone involved in these incidents unless I was very confident that I knew that person well,” McHugh’s letter states. “In this case, I have no doubt about the character of Bill Tryon. Bill’s attitude and behavior towards his fellow citizens has always been respectful, professional and kind, and Bill has always shown the deepest respect for the rule of law.”
McHugh’s letter termed the incident an “isolated lapse in judgment” and claimed Tryon “got caught up in the moment.”
“Bill Tryon has earned and built a reputation in our community over the past several decades as a hardworking farmer, an honest and trustworthy person, and a man that would take the shirt off his back for a friend or neighbor,” according to the letter.
The letter asked for “punishment that is commensurate with his actions of that fateful day, absent a period of incarceration.”
Other local residents who wrote character references for Tryon included former Town Councilman Kenneth Burns, family members and neighbors, as well as Lewis County Sheriff Michael Carpinelli.
Tryon was arrested March 30 for his role in the riot that took place Jan. 6, 2021, when supporters of former President Donald Trump breached the U.S. Capitol in an attempt to prevent congressional members from certifying the vote count of the Electoral College of the 2020 presidential election, according to court documents.
A crowd “forced entry into the U.S. Capitol, including by breaking windows and by assaulting members of law enforcement, as others in the crowd encouraged and assisted those acts,” according to court documents. Tryon was not charged with assault in the case.
Members of Congress and the Senate, including Vice President Mike Pence, who was also President of the Senate, evacuated the chambers and certification of the Electoral College votes was suspended before resuming at around 8 p.m. Jan. 6, after the Capitol was secured, according to court documents.
Tryon was among protesters attending the “Stop the Steal” rally. As the crowd moved toward the entrance to the Capitol, Tryon was informed by Capitol police that entry into the building was not permitted, according to the Statement of Offense signed by Tryon and his attorney.
“Rather than accept the officers’ denial, the defendant attempted to gain entry to the Capitol Building and was pepper-sprayed by officers,” according to the statement.
Photographs and video of Tryon standing on the Capitol steps were presented to the court, along with video of an interview Tryon gave to a reporter during the incident.
“All we want to do is enter, and tell our representatives we want our country back. We’re not going to take this,” court documents state Tryon told the reporter, adding, “this was nothing so far.”
When law enforcement insisted Tryon leave the building as they tried to clear the crowd, Tryon exited but “admitted that he obtained a microphone and led a chorus singing ‘We’re Not Gonna Take It,” by heavy metal band Twisted Sister, according to the Statement of Offense submitted by Phillips and Eve.