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Mon, May

Judge Cites Antifa When Rejecting Prison for White Supremacist’s Former Associate

Tyler Laube leaves the federal courthouse in Santa Ana, California, on Thursday, April 4, 2024, with his aunt and lawyer.

LOS ANGELES

FEDERAL TRIAL - A federal judge who believes the U.S. Department of Justice unconstitutionally prosecuted white supremacists for violence at political rallies said Thursday he knows “the government and others” will disagree with his decision to leniently sentence a man for punching a journalist in 2017.

Prosecutors wanted a year of probation and six months in prison for Tyler Laube, a former associate of Rise Above Movement founder and neo-Nazi Robert Rundo, while his lawyer asked for no prison and no probation.

During a 24-minute hearing on Thursday in Santa Ana, California, U.S. District Judge Cormac J. Carney credited Laube for 35 days already served in jail, fined him $2,000 and ordered him to be on probation for one year.

Carney’s 22-page memorandum said he has “no doubt” prosecutors’ opposition to a lighter sentence is “focusing entirely on Mr. Laube’s past white-supremacist beliefs and ignoring the violent conduct of Antifa and the similar groups.”

“Viewing Mr. Laube’s actions in context, it does not appear he intended to single out and target a journalist,” Carney wrote.

“Violence erupted at the rally. Mr. Laube did not start the violence. Indeed, he was slapped in the face twice before engaging in any violence,” the judge continued. “Once violence started, Mr. Laube and other RAM members reacted to the Antifa members that were harassing and physically attacking Trump supporters.”

U.S. District Judge Cormac J. Carney in June 2022. (Photo by Meghann M. Cuniff)

Carney said he “cannot cast aside the Constitution and ignore the mitigating factors and sentencing objectives under Section 3353(a),” referring to the federal law governing sentencings.

“The Constitution and the laws of the United States apply to everyone,” the judge wrote. “We must never forget that if the political winds change in this country, and the new government decides to turn on those not sharing the new government’s views, it will be the rights and liberties guaranteed by the Constitution and the laws of the United States that will protect us.”

The judge quoted Robert Bolt’s 1960 play A Man for All Seasons: “Yes, I’d give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety’s sake.”

Judge Carney's sentencing memo for Tyler Laube, 881KB ∙ PDF file  Download 

Laube signed his misdemeanor plea agreement in Sept. 25, 2023, five months before Carney dismissed charges against Rundo and Rise Above Movement member Robert Boman because the DOJ prosecuted them but not “far-left extremist groups" the judge said “engaged in the same violent acts.”

The case has a long history: In June 2019, Carney allowed Laube to withdraw his guilty plea for felony conspiracy after he dismissed Rundo and Boman’s charges on First Amendment grounds, but the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals reinstated the indictment.

Given his previous decisions, Carney likely would have allowed Laube to withdraw his plea to misdemeanor interference with a federally protected right without bodily injury, too. But the U.S. Attorney’s Office also is appealing the judge’s February dismissal order to the 9th Circuit, which already has curtailed the judge’s ability to release Rundo from jail. 

If Laube withdrew his plea and Carney dismissed his charges, he could end up in court again should the 9th Circuit reverse the latest dismissal as it did in 2020 with the first dismissal. Carney also is retiring at the end of May, so the case would go to another judge.

Because Laube stuck with his plea on Thursday, Carney had no choice but to impose a sentence.

Laube’s attorney appealed to the judge’s selective prosecution dismissal by referencing Antifa in his 25-page sentencing memo.

“Antifa’s loud and often violent deprivation of the speech and association of any group without their political beliefs motivated many young right wing activists,” according to the memo from John N. McNicholas in Redondo Beach. “At age 20, Tyler Laube, while overcoming drug addiction, decided that he would be one of those activists. He affiliated with a group of young men whose purpose was to protect the speech of event organizers and attendees from intended injury inflicted by Antifa.”

Laube, 27, did not mention Antifa when he spoke in court on Thursday, nor did he mention it in a March 14 letter to Judge Carney.

Instead, he said he takes “full responsibility for my actions on March 25, 2017.”

“I have had no ties to this group I was associated with since shortly after the Huntington beach rally. I have completely changed my life around. I am currently working full time and going to school for digital marketing,” Laube wrote. “I go to [Alcoholics Anonymous] meetings regularly. I’ve devoted my life to helping other people get sober by sharing the message of recovery.”

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(Meghann Cuniff is a Legal affairs reporter covering trials and more in Los Angeles and Orange County. Gmail: meghanncuniff.)

 

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