Sanford firefighter who pleaded guilty for role in Capitol riot sentenced to 2 years of probation

Andrew James Williams pleaded guilty to misdemeanor charge in plea deal

WASHINGTON – A Sanford firefighter who pleaded guilty to a charge for his role in the U.S. Capitol riot as part of a plea deal with federal prosecutors was sentenced in federal court to two years of probation.

Andrew James Williams was arrested days after the Jan. 6, 2021, attempt to prevent Congress from certifying the results of the 2020 presidential election. During a hearing Wednesday, Williams was sentenced with probation and ordered to pay $500 restitution and a $10 special assessment fee. He was also ordered to complete 60 hours of community service in 12 months.

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During the sentencing hearing, federal prosecutors said Williams “relished what he did” and he cheered “we’re storming the Capitol.” Williams admitted to entering the Capitol building and going to the office of U.S. Rep. Nancy Pelosi, speaker of the House of Representatives.

Williams pleaded guilty to one count of parading, demonstrating or picketing inside a Capitol building, a misdemeanor that carries a maximum sentence of six months in prison and a fine.

Williams’ attorney argued during the hearing he wasn’t there to participate in the riot and instead “got caught up in the moment that day.” His attorney also cited 67 character letters sent on Williams’ behalf, including from a fellow firefighter who asked for leniency so he can continue serving the citizens of Sanford.

Williams also read a statement during the hearing and said he takes “full responsibility for my actions.” He also asked the judge for mercy.

According to court documents, prosecutors asked the judge to sentence Williams to 30 days in jail along with two years probation and a $500 fine. However, his attorney was pushing for time served and one year probation.

He has been with the Sanford Fire Department since 2016 and was placed on nonpaid administrative leave following his arrest. According to an update from Sanford fire officials, Williams was still on administrative leave without pay prior to the hearing.

City officials released the following statement after the sentencing:

“The City is aware of the sentencing of Firefighter/Paramedic Andrew Williams for his actions at the U.S. Capital on January 6, 2021. The City’s position has always been to commence an internal investigation pending the results of the sentence from a Federal judge. The Sanford Fire Department will commence an internal investigation expeditiously and efficiently as possible to determine any violation(s) of City policy(ies).”

About the Author:

Brenda Argueta is a digital journalist who joined in March 2021. She graduated from UCF and returned to Central Florida after working in Colorado.