Retired Chicago FF Sentenced for Jan. 6 Insurrection

Dec. 1, 2023
Joseph Pavlik, 66, was sentenced to two months in prison, more than two years of house arrest and probation.

Caroline Kubzansky

Chicago Tribune


A federal judge on Friday sentenced a retired Chicago firefighter to two months in prison, more than two years on house arrest and probation for his role in the attempted Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.

Federal prosecutors had asked for more than a year behind bars for Joseph Pavlik, 66, a 2013 Chicago Fire Department retiree who became the latest Illinois resident to be charged in connection with 2021 melee. He pleaded guilty to felony charges of civil disorder and entering or remaining in a restricted building with a dangerous weapon in late August.

Judge Trevor McFadden, of the D.C district court, sentenced Pavlik to the shorter prison term with six months of home confinement and 24 months of supervised release, according to a news release from the U.S. attorney’s office. Pavlik will also have to pay a $6,000 fine and $2,000 in restitution.

Fire Department spokesman Larry Langford confirmed in February that Pavlik joined the department in 1981 and worked as a firefighter until his retirement.

Prosecutors said Pavlik was a member of the Guardians of Freedom, an organization founded by his nephew and loosely affiliated with another right-wing militia group, the Three Percenters. They also cited numerous social media statements Pavlik made in the weeks preceding the riot calling for violence in response to Donald Trump’s election loss.

“These aren’t Americans they are indoctrinated socialists that hate America and hate Americans,” he allegedly posted on Facebook in December 2020. “We need to be much more brutal than punching and kicking. This is not some simple street disagreement.”

At the Capitol on Jan. 6, Pavlik and five others tried to breach a line of law enforcement defending the building’s west terrace tunnel, where some members of Congress were sheltering in place, according to prosecutors.

He later appeared in surveillance images and police body-worn camera footage wearing a gas mask and vest with patches depicting anti-government phrases.

Pavlik’s companions, who are all from Florida, were arrested during the past year on charges stemming from the same tunnel altercation, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.

Pavlik is among some 42 Illinoisans to be federally charged as part of the ongoing investigation into the Capitol attack, which prosecutors have described as one of the largest criminal investigations in U.S. history.

Nationwide, more than 1,200 people have been arrested in all 50 states and the District of Columbia on charges stemming from the Capitol breach, according to the Justice Department.


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