On Thursday, 56-year-old Rabbi Michael Stepakoff was sentenced to two months of home confinement and 60 hours of community service as the terms of a year-long probation over his involvement in last year's Capitol riot.
Stepakoff's legal counsel had requested that he receive a $50 fine. Instead, the defendant faces a fine of $742, with an additional $500 restitution charge.
Judge Rudolph Contreras stated he believed Stepakoff was smarter than he lets on, in response to defense arguments that the rabbi was oblivious to the situation.
Stepakoff said at his sentencing hearing: "I went to Washington to witness a historic event and to let my voice be heard as part of it. This seemed like a pivotal and historic moment in our country, and whatever the outcome I wanted to be a part of it, and be able to talk about it over livestream. If the GOP lost, so be it. There's always another election in two years and then four years. That's America."
Stepakoff was represented by conservative criminal defense attorney Marina Medvin, and her law firm's website posted the results. Other charges were dismissed with Stepakoff having only pleaded guilty (back in September 2021) to parading, demonstrating, or picketing in a Capitol building.
According to his attorney, Stepakoff went to Washington, DC, for Jan. 5 and 6 in response to the advertised rallying cry from conerservative groups to gather.
On the day of the Capitol riot, it's said that the rabbi attended President Donald Trump's speech, left to go to the bathroom, and went to the Capitol building when he came back for the demonstrations. "Michael Stepakoff walked into the Capitol building hallway, looked around, took some photographs, shook hands with a police officer — and then he walked out," according to reports. It's said that the rabbi just wandered around and left, but didn't see any immediate violence going on around him. He didn't learn about any of that until the media reports later.
According to the Associated Press, federal prosecutors wanted the rabbi to spend 14 days in prison as punishment. While Stepakoff used to practice law himself, he has been a senior rabbi at a Messianic synagogue in Florida for the last 20 years.