WASHINGTON — A former police officer from Rocky Mount, Virginia, pleaded guilty Friday to conspiracy in connection with the Jan. 6 insurrection, taking a deal to cooperate against his codefendant — another ex-cop he described as a “father-figure” and “mentor” — who is set for trial next month.
Jacob Fracker and Thomas Robertson were off duty from their posts as officers with Rocky Mount’s police department when they allegedly joined the mob that descended on the Capitol as lawmakers gathered to certify the results of the election. The pair was scheduled to jointly face a jury starting April 4. Fracker’s plea deal means he’s agreed to testify against Robertson if the government wants to call him as a witness.
Fracker’s appearance on Friday marks at least the seventh guilty plea that federal prosecutors have secured for a conspiracy charge related to Jan. 6. Some conspiracy offenses are more serious than others; Fracker pleaded guilty to conspiring to commit a crime against the United States, an offense with a maximum penalty of five years in prison; according to his plea agreement, his estimated sentencing range is between 15 to 21 months, given his lack of criminal history and acceptance of responsibility. If prosecutors are satisfied with his cooperation, the deal spells out that they’ll back him in seeking a sentence below that range.
Fracker’s guilty plea comes on the heels of two setbacks for the defense. In late February, US District Judge Christopher Cooper rejected Fracker and Robertson’s challenge to the most serious felony they faced, for obstructing an official proceeding, which has a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison. Earlier this month, a jury in the first Jan. 6 case to go to trial found defendant Guy Reffitt guilty of all counts, including the same obstruction charge featured in Robertson and Fracker’s case. That verdict didn’t mean future juries would always convict in Jan. 6 cases, but showed the government was capable of winning at trial.
According to a description of events that Fracker admitted was true as part of his plea, he traveled with Robertson and an unnamed third person to Washington, DC, by car, and parked near a metro station. They had brought their police badges and department-issued guns, but left those in the car when they took the metro downtown. They carried gas masks, which they put on as they approached the Capitol. Robertson carried a “large wooden stick or club that Fracker had never seen Robertson carry before.”
As they encountered police officers on the grounds outside the Capitol trying to hold off the mob, Fracker said that Robertson used the stick he was carrying “to impede the officers’ path.”
Fracker got separated from Robertson as they made their way towards the building, but they reunited inside in the Capitol Crypt. They posed for a selfie, with Fracker displaying his middle finger and Robertson pointing to him, in front of a statue of John Stark, who served as a New Hampshire militia leader and general during the Revolutionary War. Fracker sent messages on and immediately after Jan. 6 appearing to brag about his role in “holding it down” during the attack and claiming he’d taken a “piss” in “Nancy P’s toilet,” referring to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. The government made a point of clarifying that he did not actually use a toilet in Pelosi’s office.
According to Fracker, the FBI contacted him and Robertson on Jan. 13, 2021, to alert them of warrants for their arrest. Before they turned themselves in, he gave his cellphone to Robertson and believed that Robertson had “disposed of” the phone as well as a phone that belonged to Robertson. Fracker said Robertson didn’t tell him what happened to the phones and “it was better that way” if he didn’t know. Fracker described a close relationship with Robertson — he said Robertson had given him $30,000 since Jan. 6, which he was “grateful for,” and that he considered Robertson a “father-figure” and “mentor.” Before turning himself in to the FBI, Fracker dropped off his daughter for Robertson’s wife to watch.
They were both fired from the Rocky Mount police department shortly after being charged in January 2021, according to news reports.
Fracker and Robertson were allowed to return home after they were arrested. Last summer, however, Cooper ordered Robertson to report to jail after the government argued he’d violated his release conditions by ordering firearms online; FBI agents who searched his home found a loaded assault rifle and ammunition. His lawyer unsuccessfully argued for the judge to consider releasing him in the fall, and he’s expected to remain in custody pending his trial next month.