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Former State College Business Owner Sentenced To Prison For Role In January 6 Riot

former State College business owner was sentenced on Friday to nearly seven years in federal prison for assaulting two police officers during the January 6, 2021, riot at the U.S. Capitol.

Julian E. Khater, now of New Jersey, admitted in September to pepper-spraying U.S. Capitol Police Officers Brian Sicknick and Caroline Edwards. The 34-year-old former owner of Frutta Bowls in downtown State College, which closed in 2020, pleaded guilty to two felony counts of assaulting officers with a dangerous weapon.

U.S. District Judge Thomas Hogan sentenced Khater to 80 months, with credit for 22 months already served, and a $10,000 fine. The sentence, which was within sentencing range guidelines of six-and-a-half to eight years, is the longest handed down to date against any of the more than 900 people charged in connection with the attack on the Capitol. Federal prosecutors had sought 90 months.

Khater traveled to Washington, D.C., on January 6 with co-defendant 42-year-old George P. Tanios, of West Virginia, who brought two cans of bear spray and two cans of pepper spray. The two men attended a rally where former President Donald Trump spoke then went to the Capitol where they joined a mob of Trump supporters seeking to disrupt Congress from certifying Joe Biden’s presidential election win.

Tanios, who pleaded guilty to two misdemeanors, was sentenced to five months time served.

Khater told Tanios to “Give me that bear sh–,” and reached into Tanios’s backpack, then saying he had just been sprayed. As other rioters began to forcibly remove bike rack barriers, Khater sprayed a canister in the face of Sicknick, who had to turn his head away and retreat. Prosecutors said Khater used pepper spray, not bear spray.

Sicknick died the following day. Washington, D.C. medical examiner Francisco J. Diaz concluded Sicknick died of natural causes after suffering multiple strokes, and neither Khater nor Tanios were charged in his death.

Diaz, however, said “all that transpired [on January 6] played a role in his condition,” according to the Washington Post.

Edwards, who was sprayed at the same time and who testified to the House January 6 committee last June, said in her remarks to the court that Sicknick turned “ghostly pale” during the attack and that she experienced survivor’s guilt after being unable to help him because she was also temporarily incapacitated.

“Sometimes when I close my eyes I can still see his face, white as a sheet,” she said, according to the New York Times. “I would give anything to take the pain away from the Sicknick family and my fellow officers.”

Dozens of U.S. Capitol Police officers were in attendance at Federal District Court in Washington for Friday’s sentencing, which included testimony from Sicknick’s family.

Gladys Sicknick, Brian Sicknick’s mother, told Khater at the sentencing, “You attacked my son like he was an animal. You are the animal, Mr. Khater. … How does it feel to be headed to jail for a bald-faced lie?” according to NPR.

She also cast wider blame on the mob of rioters.

“All of you bear responsibility for the injuries sustained by Brian’s fellow officers — the broken bones, head trauma and the continuing mental anguish they suffer and will endure for the rest of their lives,” she said, according to the Times. “Imagine the emotional pain that would cause someone to take his own life. Four officers committed suicide. You and your ‘movement’ caused their deaths.”

Khater had asked the court to be sentenced to time served.

“What happened on January 6 — there’s no words for it,” he told Hogan. “It’s unfortunate, and I wish I could take it all back.”

Hogan noted that Khater did not apologize to the officers. Khater said he did not apologize because of ongoing civil cases, which include a lawsuit from Sicknick’s longtime partner, Sandra Garza.

“I find that is a very self-centered approach,” Hogan told Khater.

Khater is the second person with State College ties to be convicted of felony charges in connection with the January 6 riot. Brian Gundersen, 28, was found guilty in November of obstructing the congressional vote and assaulting a law enforcement officer.

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About the Author

Geoff Rushton (

Geoff Rushton is managing editor for Contact him at [email protected] or find him on Twitter at @geoffrushton.

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