‘You were in the thick of it’: Illinois couple sentenced to probation in US Capitol breach

Joe Raedle/Getty Images North America/TNS

CHICAGO — A Joliet-area couple were sentenced Tuesday to probation and community service for entering the U.S. Capitol through a broken window during the Jan. 6 riot and joining a mob trying to break into the congressional chambers.

In sentencing John and Amy Schubert, of Crest Hill, U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson said the couple were active participants in an attempt to subvert democracy and “replace it with the rule of the mob.”

“There here was nothing excusable or understandable about your conduct on Jan. 6,” the judge said during the hour-long hearing, which was held via a video link. “You were in the thick of it. … It took a large number of people to overcome the police and breach the building. It could not have been accomplished without people like you.”

Still, because both defendants have shown remorse and lived otherwise “exemplary lives,” Jackson rejected a request by prosecutors for a sentence of home confinement. Instead, she sentenced each to 18 months of probation and ordered each to perform 100 hours of community service. They must also pay a total of $4,500 in fines and restitution.

Both John Schubert, 72, and Amy, 62, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Washington to a misdemeanor charge of unlawful entry of a government building.

Prosecutors said the couple entered the building through a broken window shortly after 2 p.m. on Jan. 6, 2021, and were among the first wave of rioters to try to break into the congressional chambers, where then-Vice President Mike Pence was leading a hearing to certify Joe Biden’s victory over Donald Trump.

During their nearly 40 minutes in the Capitol, Amy Schubert could be heard on video leading rioters in a chant of “We want Trump!” according to prosecutors. Later, after police pushed the crowd back, Amy Schubert took photos in a congressional meeting room of another rioter holding up a “Stop the Steal” sign in a window.

Later that day, Amy Schubert sent texts from her cellphone saying both she and her husband “got a little maced” and that “a woman was shot 20 feet in front” of them, according to a recent court filing by prosecutors. She also sent other texts worrying about photos from the incident that they’d posted on Facebook.

“I don’t want to help government to be able to match up exactly how we looked/what we were wearing that day,” she texted two days after the attack. “I’m thinking maybe we should take them down….”

According to a criminal complaint filed last year, the couple were identified by the FBI in part by a Joliet plumbers and pipefitters local union jacket that Amy Schubert was seen wearing in a lengthy video posted to YouTube by an unidentified person.

Investigators were able to determine that a phone linked to Amy Schubert was one of only six devices with a Joliet area code being used inside the Capitol at the time, according to the complaint. Photos on Schubert’s publicly available Facebook profile were then matched to the images of the woman in the video, according to the charges.

Both Schuberts wrote lengthy letters to the court last month saying they got caught up in the moment and realize now that their actions were wrong.

Before being sentenced Tuesday, John Schubert said he’s “willing to pay the price” for what he did.

“I’m guilty and I made a mistake. That’s it,” he said.

His wife also issued her own apology to the court.

The Schuberts were among some 27 Illinoisans to be federally charged so far as part of the ongoing investigation into the Capitol attack, which prosecutors have described as one of the largest criminal investigations in American history.