Man who stole photo of Pelosi with John Lewis is sentenced to over 4 years for Capitol riot role
A Chicago man who stole a prized photograph from then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office during the U.S. Capitol riot was sentenced on Friday to more than four years in prison for his role in the mob’s attack on the building.
Kevin James Lyons, 40, took a wallet from a Pelosi staffer’s coat and a framed photograph of Pelosi with the late Congressman John Lewis, a civil rights movement icon who died in July 2020. Lyons also mockingly called out Pelosi’s name during the riot on Jan. 6, 2021.
“In the context of the actions of the riotous mob, some of whom were baying for blood, Lyons’ invocation of the Speaker’s name could only be intended and understood as a threat of violence,” prosecutors wrote in a court filing.
Investigators haven’t recovered the photograph of Pelosi with Lewis, which was taken during a 2019 visit to Africa, her last trip abroad with the Georgia Democrat before his death. The framed photo, taken from a mantle in the California Democrat’s office, was a gift from a former staff photographer who took it.
A senior member of Pelosi’s staff told prosecutors that the photo was one of her favorites. It was “of extreme sentimental and nonmonetary value and was, in no uncertain terms, not just another photograph,” prosecutors wrote.
U.S. District Judge Beryl Howell sentenced Lyons to four years and three months in prison followed by three years of supervised release, according to court records. The judge allowed Lyons to remain free until he must report to prison.
A spokesperson for Pelosi declined to comment on the case,
Lyons wasn’t charged with the theft of the photograph, but he acknowledged in a court filing that he took it and the staffer’s wallet. Howell convicted him of charges including obstruction of an official proceeding, the Jan. 6 joint session of Congress for certifying President Joe Biden’s 2020 electoral victory.
Howell convicted Lyons after a “stipulated bench trial,” which means the judge decided the case without a jury based on facts that both sides agreed to before the trial started. The proceeding allows defendants to preserve appeal rights that they would have to waive if they pleaded guilty.
Prosecutors had recommended a prison sentence of four years and eight months for Lyons, an HVAC technician who was arrested in Illinois a week after the riot.
Lyons drove through the night from Chicago to Washington, D.C., to attend then-President Donald Trump’s “Stop the Steal” rally near the White House on Jan. 6. He used his cellphone to record himself as he joined the pro-Trump mob’s attack on the Capitol.
Lyons shouted, “Nancy, where are you?” and “Nancy!” in a menacing tone before entering her office. Some of Pelosi’s staffers were hiding in a nearby office, locked and barricaded with furniture, while rioters invaded her office suite.
Lyons later told FBI agents that he left Pelosi’s office when a police officer entered with a gun drawn and ordered everybody to leave.
Lyons also heckled police officers, calling them Nazis and “oath breakers” as they tried to protect the Capitol.
On the night of Jan. 6, Lyons texted a picture of the stolen photograph to friends and wrote, “I’m pretty confident I am now a multiple Federal felon.”
The FBI searched his home but didn’t find the photo, “meaning that he has either destroyed it, disposed of it, or continues to possess it to this day,” prosecutors wrote.
On Instagram, he posted a screenshot of a wooden plaque outside of Pelosi’s office suite.
“During the entire course of January 6, Lyons maintained a glib and insolent tone in the face of the destruction, chaos, and violence of the mob,” prosecutors wrote. “He made jokes about the situation unfolding around him, even as he saw broken bike racks, toppled security fences, shattered windows, broken doors, and overrun police officers.”
Lyons is ashamed of his actions and genuinely remorseful, defense attorney Lawrence Wolf Levin said in a court filing.
“The defendant is a good, hard-working man who made an extremely poor choice and regretfully participated in a serious criminal offense,” Levin wrote.
More than 1,000 people have been charged with federal crimes related to the Jan. 6 siege. Approximately 100 of them have been convicted after trials decided by a jury or judge, while over 600 others have pleaded guilty. More than 560 riot defendants have been sentenced, with over half receiving terms of imprisonment ranging from three days to 18 years.