- A Texas man who turned himself in 3 days after the Capitol riot was sentenced to one year probation.
- Eliel Rosa, 53, is a civics teacher in the US on asylum as he pursues US citizenship.
- By pleading to a misdemeanor, Rosa avoided a felony, which would have threatened future citizenship.
A Texas civics teacher charged in the January 6 Capitol attack narrowly avoided jail time after he struck a plea deal – but the man’s delicate immigration status could still be in jeopardy, despite his lenient sentence.
Eliel Rosa, 53, pleaded guilty to one count of parading, demonstrating, or picketing in a Capitol building earlier this year after he admitted to entering the US Capitol on January 6. Rosa had previously been indicted on five counts, including a felony obstruction charge that carried a possible sentence of 20 years.
On Tuesday, US District Court Judge Trevor McFadden in DC sentenced Rosa to one year of probation, 100 hours of community service, and $500 in damages. Federal prosecutors had requested one month of home confinement.
According to a criminal complaint reviewed by Insider, Rosa, along with his friend, Jenny Cudd, entered the US Capitol on January 6 after attending then-President Donald Trump’s “Stop the Steal” rally. The two friends had originally returned to their hotel after the rally, but made their way back to the Capitol when they learned that former Vice President Mike Pence had refused to overturn the election, court documents said.
Rosa told authorities that he was so close to the Speaker’s Lobby during the insurrection that he heard the shot that killed Ashli Babbitt.
On January 9, Rosa walked into his local FBI office and turned himself in for his participation in the attack, court documents said.
During sentencing, McFadden said he had never heard of someone turning themself over to authorities before they had even been named a suspect in a crime, local CBS affiliate WUSA reported.
But McFadden, a former federal prosecutor and deputy assistant attorney general, did admonish Rosa for his actions given his unique circumstances as both a civics teacher and an immigrant in the US on asylum. According to court documents, Rosa and his wife fled political persecution in Brazil and arrived in the US in 2016. The couple was granted asylum in 2018 and they are currently pursuing US citizenship.
Rosa’s public defender, Michelle Peterson, reportedly cited possible consequences to his pending immigration status as a reason for both his confession and requests for leniency. Peterson did not immediately return Insider’s request for comment on behalf of Rosa.
By pleading to the misdemeanor charge, Rosa avoided a felony, which would have resulted in a significant threat to any future citizenship. But a US statute that requires citizenship-seekers to demonstrate “good moral character” may still come into play.
Rosa’s co-defendant, Cudd has not yet reached a plea deal. She is currently set to head to trial in February.
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