For all the prominent prosecutions and sentences handed down to Jan. 6 demonstrators, there is one case that is inexplicably shrouded in secrecy. It involves 37-year-old Samuel Lazar of Ephrata, Pennsylvania.
He was arrested in July 2021 on charges related to the Jan. 6 protest. Prosecutors alleged he came to the Capitol in tactical gear and wearing protective goggles.
They further accused him of spraying chemicals at law enforcement officers engaged in a struggle with supporters of former President Donald Trump. Unlike many other cases trotted out before the media, this one remained off the radar.
So much so that there is no public record of a conviction or sentencing within Lazar’s court docket.
The Associated Press was told by the Bureau of Prisons that Lazar was released from federal custody. It confirmed that he was sentenced on March 17 to 30 months in federal prison, though there is no public record of this sentencing taking place.
Lazar had been in custody since his arrest in July 2021.
The AP confirmed he was moved from the FCI Fort Dix federal lockup in July to “community confinement.” That indicates he was either transferred to a halfway house or to home confinement.
The Justice Department (DOJ) thus far has been tight-lipped on the case. Even Lazar’s attorneys were not forthcoming after repeated attempts by the AP to get answers.
In May, the federal judge overseeing the case rejected a request from multiple media outlets to release possible sealed records concerning Lazar’s conviction and sentencing.
Of course, this means there are serious transparency concerns about what quickly developed into the largest investigation in DOJ history. The Biden administration made certain to go after nearly everyone with the slightest measure of involvement in the protest with the maximum publicity.
Except for this one case.
The DOJ generally makes court hearings and such records available to the public. It has hardly been forthcoming about the Lazar case, however, leading critics to speculate over possible special circumstances in the prosecution.
Randall Eliason is a George Washington University criminal law professor. He told the AP that he did not know of another case in which the sentencing hearing was sealed. Eliason cited a possible security concern or “more likely” some level of cooperation authorities wanted to suppress.