Washington real estate broker John MacMillan Cameron, who was arrested earlier this year for his involvement in the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol riot, was sentenced to 36 months of probation, including 30 days in prison served intermittently, on Monday.
Cameron, age 55, initially pleaded not guilty to federal charges related to the episode but pleaded guilty in May to one misdemeanor count of “Parading, Demonstrating, or Picketing in a Capitol Building” as part of a plea agreement. The charge carries a maximum sentence of six months of imprisonment; probation of up to five years; and a fine of up to $5,000.
According to a criminal complaint, surveillance footage from the Capitol building that day shows a middle-aged man believed to be Cameron, wearing a red “Make America Great Again” cap, a white t-shirt saying “COUNT ALL LEGAL VOTES” and an American flag cape — entering the building through a Senate wing door less than 10 minutes after rioters first breached the building through that same door. He allegedly was inside for about 22 minutes before climbing out of a broken window to leave.
Cameron later admitted to his participation in the riot as part of the plea agreement.
“In his comments, he said of his experience at the U.S. Capitol: ‘Was it pretty? No. Did it make a statement? Yes,’” the complaint said. “He said he didn’t know who had broken the doors down at the Capitol building. He also said it was a fun, exciting, interesting, and historic event.”
On Jan. 6, 2021, a mob, with Realtors among its members, stormed the U.S. Capitol building and rioted while lawmakers attempted to certify the results of the 2020 election, resulting in several deaths and more than 150 injured police officers. Cameron is at least the third real estate professional to be charged in the insurrection. Texas-based broker Jenna Ryan was sentenced to 60 days in jail last fall for her involvement in the attack.
The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) had requested that Cameron be sentenced to 30 days in jail, 36 months probation, 60 hours of community service and $500 restitution.
“Cameron’s consistent minimization and falsehoods about the riot and his own role in the events of January 6 demonstrate the need for specific deterrence for this defendant,” federal attorneys wrote in a sentencing memo last week.
“He continues to downplay and ignore the seriousness of his conduct, showing no appreciation for the destruction and devastation it caused. Despite clear indications that he knows it is not true, he has insisted, even well after the fact, that the riot was peaceful, casting doubt on basic undisputable [sic] facts — including the many injuries and even the loss of several lives.
“He used the riot as an opportunity to grow his influence on social media and even raise money. The sentence in this case should send a message to Cameron and others that a peaceful democratic society does not tolerate his behavior on that day. A sentence that includes incarceration will serve that important need.”
However, in a separate memo, Cameron’s attorney Angus Lee, asked for a sentence of six months probation and community service, pointing out that Cameron had no other criminal history in the last 25 years, committed no violent actions on the day of the event and was “caught up in the passion and excitement of the crowd … and then left when directed” that day.
“A sentence of probation is enough in this case to ensure that he has no further criminal conduct and will protect the public from any further crimes by Mr. Cameron,” Lee wrote.
“There is no indication that Mr. Cameron is likely to reoffend or be a danger to the public. The charges and guilty plea in this matter have already significantly impacted his life and have subjected him to significant public opprobrium via local and national news reports online, in print, and on television.
“Mr. Cameron was also de-platformed from Facebook as a result of the charges and media coverage. Facebook was his primary source of lead generation for his business. This de-platforming has had a significant negative financial impact on him.”
On Monday Judge Thomas F. Hogan for the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia sentenced Cameron to 30 days of intermittent confinement, 36 months probation, a $10 special assessment, a $1,000 fine and $500 in restitution.
According to the U.S. Sentencing Commission, “intermittent confinement” means “remaining in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons during nights, weekends, or other intervals of time … during the first year of the term of probation or supervised release.” Hogan ordered Cameron to serve the jail time in three-day increments, according to legal news outlet Law & Crime.
According to the outlet, Hogan spent several minutes of Cameron’s sentencing hearing offering him the opportunity to acknowledge the violence around him at the Capitol that day, to no avail.
“I think if you had pled to a felony I’d be giving you some years in jail,” Hogan said. “I don’t believe in any way you have understood or comprehended what happened that day and your part in it.”
“I don’t know how you can tell yourself you didn’t see violence, never heard any violence, that you never saw any evidence of people entering through windows,” Hogan added. “In your own prior statements … you talked about broken doors. You seem to forget that now.”
According to Lee’s memo, Cameron has been a managing broker with Link Real Estate in Lacey, Washington since May 1, 2021. “His employer is aware of his pending sentencing,” the memo reads. The brokerage’s website appears to be down currently.
After Cameron’s arrest, a spokesperson for the National Association of Realtors told Inman that Cameron was not an active Realtor but did not respond when asked whether Cameron had previously been a Realtor. He is not currently a Realtor, NAR told Inman Wednesday.
Inman has reached out to Cameron, Lee and Link Real Estate broker-owner Robyn Link for comment. We will update this story if and when any response is received.