Two-time Olympic gold medalist Klete Keller avoided prison time on Friday after being sentenced to three years of probation and six months of home detention for storming the U.S. Capitol with fellow Donald Trump supporters on Jan. 6, 2021.
“I stand before you feeling ashamed and profoundly embarrassed,” said Keller, who will also have to perform 360 hours of community service as part of his sentence. He added that he “set a terrible example for young people who looked up to me” and that Jan. 6 was a “terrible day.”
Last month, the U.S. government requested that the District Court of Columbia give Keller a 10-month sentence in federal prison for his involvement in the insurrection over the ratification of Joe Biden‘s presidential election victory — significantly shorter than the sentencing guidelines of 21 to 27 months in similar cases. Prosecutors argued that his punishment should include imprisonment, but they noted that “he has also shown genuine remorse and, more importantly, he has tried to right his wrong for nearly three years.”
In July, Keller had his sentencing hearing postponed for the third time until Dec. 1. His defense argued the delay was warranted due to “the nature of Mr. Keller’s ongoing cooperation… and the potential effect that such cooperation may have on Mr. Keller’s eventual sentence.”
Keller, now 41, was first identified in videos from the insurrection wearing a U.S. Olympic Team jacket. By September of 2021, he reached a plea deal with federal prosecutors for felony obstruction, a charge that carries a maximum sentence of 20 years.
The Jan. 6 Capitol riot resulted in charges being brought against 1,200 people, about 900 of whom have pleaded guilty of been convicted. Sentences have varied from home detention to 22 years in prison.
Keller resigned from his position as a commercial real estate agent at Hoff & Leigh, a real estate agency in Colorado Springs, after news of his presence at the Capitol broke. The agency at the time said in a statement that “Hoff & Leigh supports the right of free speech and lawful protest but we cannot condone actions that violate the rule of law. We pride ourselves on our deeply held core values of family, loyalty, community and stewardship. We continue to stand by these values.”
He admitted to spending “a little less than one hour” inside the Capitol as part of an attempt to stop or delay certification of the electoral college vote for the 2020 election. He also said he took phone photos and videos inside the Capitol, then destroyed the phone, its memory card, and threw away the Team USA jacket within 48 hours. According to his plea, Keller yelled, “F*** Nancy Pelosi!” and “F*** Chuck Schumer!” when he was in the rotunda.
The Capitol riot resulted in the deaths of five people, including a police officer.
A three-time Olympian, Keller won two gold medals as a member of the American men’s 800-meter freestyle relay team at Athens 2004 and Beijing 2008. He also picked up a silver in the event at Sydney 2000 in addition to a pair of bronze medals in the 400 free at Sydney 200 and Athens 2004. He competed collegiately at USC for two years from 2000-01 before turning professional. Until 2007, he trained at Michigan’s Club Wolverine under coaches Jon Urbanchek and later Bob Bowman.
James Sutherland contributed to this report.