Three active-duty Marines who were convicted on charges stemming from their participation in the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol have been sentenced to community service and probation, their lawyers told Military.com
The trio — Joshua Abate, Micah Coomer and Dodge Hellonen — who were friends in the same unit, drove to Washington, D.C., from Quantico, Virginia, to participate in the siege. Each was sentenced separately this week, beginning with Hellonen on Monday. Court records also show that Hellonen and Abate are in the process of being administratively separated from the service, while Coomer was separated at the end of his contract.
David Dischley, the lawyer for Abate, told Military.com that his client was sentenced Wednesday to one year of supervised probation with the condition that he complete 279 hours of community service. Phillip Stackhouse, the lawyer for Coomer, also said his client received “probation and community service” at a hearing Tuesday but did not offer specifics.
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All three Marines took plea deals in which they pleaded guilty to a single count of “violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds.”
Dischley said he was “very pleased with the thoughtful consideration given by the Court” and called the decision “very fair and reasonable.”
Hellonen was sentenced Monday to probation and 279 hours of community service.
The Associated Press reported that the judge overseeing Hellonen’s case explained that the very specific requirement of community service was based on casualties the Marines suffered in the Civil War — one hour for every Marine who was killed or wounded.
The trio of Marines makes up almost all of the active-duty service members who were identified and arrested by federal prosecutors for Jan. 6. The only other active-duty service member to be arrested on Jan. 6 charges was Marine Corps Maj. Christopher Warnagiris, who was taken into custody in May 2021 on nine charges. He has since been separated from the Marine Corps, but his trial is ongoing.
A handful of other people charged for Jan. 6 were either in the National Guard but not activated or in the reserves. Two men were booted from basic training after investigations revealed their presence at the Capitol that day.
A spokesperson for the Marine Corps told Military.com that the branch “continues cooperating with the appropriate authorities” but that it does not comment on “ongoing legal matters.”
All three Marines, who were arrested more than two years after the attack, worked in jobs connected to the intelligence community and, according to documents filed with the court, were largely seen as hardworking service members who had promising futures ahead of them. Abate and Hellonen had even recently reenlisted.
In those same court filings, though, the lawyers for all three Marines revealed that the Corps not only took steps to strip them of access to classified information but has moved to discharge them from the service.
Hellonen’s lawyer noted that “rather than working as a signals analyst, [he] was given such assignments as inventorying military gear” following his arrest.
In the same memo, filed last week, his lawyer revealed that “he received separation paperwork in July 2023” and said that “Mr. Hellonen understands he will be separated from the USMC.”
The filing, which was a sentencing memo asking the court not to give Hellonen any jail time, said that the onetime sergeant in the Marine Corps wanted to “focus on challenging the classification of his discharge (he hopes for an Honorable, rather than Other-Than-Honorable Discharge).”
Military.com reached out to Hellonen’s attorney for clarification on his status with the Marines but did not receive a reply.
Meanwhile, prosecutors pointed to Coomer as the most problematic of the three, owing to his social media posts that referenced the Boogaloo movement — a broad anti-government movement that favors violence and believes in a forthcoming race war. Coomer left the Marine Corps when his contract concluded Saturday.
Stackhouse, Coomer’s lawyer, told Military.com in an email that “after completion of his obligated service, i.e., his contract, he received a favorable characterization of service.”
In his own sentencing memo, though, Stackhouse told the court that Coomer went through a separation board in the summer that voted to retain the Marine. Stackhouse said that Coomer’s commanders — first Lt. Gen. George Smith and then Maj. Gen. Bradford Gering — overruled that decision and pushed to “give Micah a less than honorable discharge.”
Abate is the last of the trio who is still serving in the Marine Corps. Dischley told Military.com that he is working with Abate and Marine Corps officials to set a date for his separation board hearing and he has a pending security clearance review.
“In my opinion, as a Marine myself, Sgt. Abate maintained the highest standards of integrity expected of a U.S. Marine throughout this process, in spite of his involvement in Jan. 6,” Dischley said.
“I pray the Marine Corps will allow him to continue serving our great nation,” he added.
— Konstantin Toropin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @ktoropin.
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