Soldier Who Was First Service Member Charged After Jan. 6 Riot Is Being Removed from the National Guard

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Virginia National Guard Cpl. Jacob Fracker, left, and Army veteran Thomas Robertson, right
Virginia National Guard Cpl. Jacob Fracker, left, and Army veteran Thomas Robertson, right, were arrested in Virginia in connection with the Jan. 6 storming of the U.S. Capitol. Fracker, who previously served in the Marine Corps, and Robertson are members of the Rocky Mount Police Department. Photo via the Justice Department

A Virginia National Guardsman who pleaded guilty on charges related to his role in storming the U.S. Capitol with the pro-Trump mob on Jan. 6, 2021, is being removed from the service component.

Jacob Fracker pleaded guilty in March to a federal conspiracy charge, according to the Department of Justice. He served as an infantryman, assigned to the 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 29th Infantry Division.

Fracker was arrested on several charges a week after the attack on the Capitol, which was aimed at preventing the largely ceremonial certification of President Joe Biden's 2020 victory. In the 15 months since, Fracker has not been allowed to perform any military duties but remained serving, a National Guard spokesperson said.

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"Now that his civilian charges have been adjudicated, the process has started for an administrative separation from the Virginia Army National Guard," Alfred Puryear, a spokesperson for the Virginia Guard, told Military.com in an emailed statement.

Fracker, who was a corporal, is awaiting sentencing. It is unclear what discharge status he will be given or whether he'll have any access to military benefits.

Fracker admitted in court that he sought to keep former President Donald Trump in power.

"I felt like we had maybe been heard by whoever it was we needed to be heard by," Fracker testified Thursday, according to reporting from NBC. "Maybe, possibly, have the election results overturned."

Fracker and co-defendant Thomas Robertson were both police officers in Rocky Mount, Virginia. They were both fired almost immediately after their arrest on Jan. 13, 2021. While Fracker pleaded guilty to lesser charges, Robertson, who is an Army vet, chose to go to trial, with proceedings beginning earlier this month.

During the assault, Fracker made multiple social media posts, including a selfie with Robertson in the Capitol. In one post, Fracker wrote, "sorry I hate freedom?...Not like I did anything illegal...y'all do what you feel you need to..."

Right before their arrest, Robertson destroyed his and Fracker's phones, hoping to erase evidence. Fracker also deleted his social media posts.

Court documents say the two brought their police badges and firearms to Washington, D.C., on Jan. 6, but left their weapons in their car. Instead, Robertson carried a large wooden stick into the Capitol and threatened police. The pair attended the rally held by Trump ahead of the attack, in which he encouraged the crowd to march on lawmakers, peddling conspiracy theories that the election had been stolen.

Robertson, who served as a cavalry scout, was wounded in 2011 in Afghanistan, suffering several gunshot and shrapnel wounds. He was found guilty on six federal charges and faces up to 20 years in prison for each offense, including entering and remaining in a restricted building or grounds while carrying a dangerous weapon and obstructing a civil proceeding.

While the Virginia Guard is taking action against Fracker, Pfc. Abram Markofski is still serving in the Wisconsin National Guard's Delta Company, 1st Battalion, 128th Infantry Regiment.

Markofski pleaded guilty to one charge in September as part of an agreement with prosecutors. He was sentenced to two years' probation and a $1,500 fine, despite prosecutors seeking prison time.

Some in Markofski's unit quickly came to his defense. His platoon leader, 2nd Lt. Joel Stevenson, penned a letter to the court saying Markofski is "an asset to the United States Army." In October 2020, before the Capitol siege, Markofski flunked out of Special Forces Selection for failing to pass the Army's physical fitness test.

"This remains an ongoing personnel matter, so it would be inappropriate to comment further at this time," Maj. Joe Trovato, a spokesperson for the Wisconsin National Guard, told Military.com in March.

Veteran advocates and some lawmakers are becoming increasingly concerned over radicalization among troops and the veteran community. There's little evidence to suggest current or former service members are more susceptible to falling into extremist ideology, but advocates warn that the inherent social credibility those groups bring and their military training, even if that training is limited, are attractive to radical groups.

Since the Capitol assault, about 800 individuals have been arrested in nearly all 50 states, according to the Justice Department. That includes more than 250 individuals charged with assault or impeding law enforcement.

-- Steve Beynon can be reached at Steve.Beynon@military.com. Follow him on Twitter @StevenBeynon.

Related: Fellow Guardsmen Push for Soldier in Jan. 6 Mob to Be Allowed to Continue Serving

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