Jan. 6 rioter caught in a woman’s Bumble dating app sting sentenced to prison (2024)

WASHINGTON — A Donald Trump supporter who assaulted law enforcement officers with bear spray and a metal whip — and who was arrested thanks to a woman’s sting operation on the dating app Bumble — was sentenced to just over six years in prison on Wednesday.

Andrew Taake was arrested in 2021 and pleaded guilty in December to assaulting officers using a deadly or dangerous weapon. Having previously been convicted of a felony — and having been out on bond on a charge of soliciting a minor at the time of the Capitol attack — Taake was one of a small number of Jan. 6 defendants who were held in pretrial detention.

Prosecutors sought a sentence of 6.5 years in federal prison for Taake. A court filing also indicated that prosecutors would highlight a disciplinary investigation that charged Taake “with fighting with another inmate on December 14, 2023” at the jail in Washington where Taake has been held.

Taake was sentenced Wednesday to 74 months in prison by U.S. District Judge Carl Nichols — a Trump appointee who questioned the use of an obstruction of an official proceeding charge in Jan. 6 cases, an issue that is now before the Supreme Court.

Nichols said that Taake’s actions were “as serious as any other Jan. 6 defendant I sentenced” and that “others must be deterred” from committing similar conduct in the future. Bear spraying officers and carrying a metal whip, Nichols said, “is the farthest thing from First Amendment expression.”

Taake had been set to be sentenced in April, but there were complications after Nichols suggested in court that he thought an additional sentencing enhancement should apply, even though the government is barred by the terms of the plea deal from explicitly advocating for it.

Nichols relied upon a statement from one of the officers whom Taake hit with bear spray. The officer wrote in a victim impact statement that he was “immediately,” but temporarily, “blinded” after being hit and that it was the worst pain he had ever experienced in his life, saying it was “like living death.”

Federal prosecutors argued in their sentencing memo that Taake “has continually shifted blame for his criminal actions on January 6 to the victim officers, members of Congress, and the media,” in the nearly three years since his arrest.

“His enduring narrative is that he and other ‘patriots’ were heroes and that he is a wrongfully detained victim of ‘selective persecution.’ He has not exhibited an ounce of remorse for his actions, nor accepted responsibility — going so far as to deny responsibility even after his guilty plea,” they wrote. “And based on reports from his pretrial detention, he has taken to using violence against other inmates to relieve his frustrations with his self-inflicted predicament.”

In court Wednesday, Assistant U.S. Attorney Madison Mumma said that Taake had committed at least six assaults on Jan. 6, including four using bear spray. Taake, she said, thought Trump’s election loss was the “beginning of the end for the United States” and vowed to take the fight “directly to the swamp creatures.”

Taake was arrested as a result of a sting operation that a young professional working in the nation’s capitallaunched on the dating app Bumble after the Jan. 6 attack.

The woman, referred to as “Witness 1” in an FBI affidavit, previously recalledhow a bit of “comically minimal ego-stroking” on her part led to Taake and other Jan. 6 participants giving up information about their activities during that attack.

“I felt a bit of ‘civic duty,’ I guess, but truthfully, I was mostly just mad and thinking, ‘F--- these guys,’” the woman, who spoke anonymously for fear of online reprisal, said. The men wanted to “regurgitate” the lies they heard from prominent Republicans about the 2020 presidential election, she said.

The woman’s strategy, she recalled, was to say, “Wow, crazy, tell me more,” on repeat until she had enough to send to the FBI.

“It definitely didn’t take a lot of arm-twisting to get them to start talking about it. Basically, me being like ‘Wow, so cool — then what? What else?’ was pretty much all it took,” she said. “One of my friends was like, ‘You basically got all these confessions just being, like, “Haha! Then what?’”

After Taake’s sentencing on Wednesday, the woman told NBC News that she thought the sentence was “solid,” especially from Nichols, and that she was happy to see Taake held accountable.

“glad that at least one of the creeps ive met on bumble will get jail time,” she wrote in a text message. “glad that I could help out the online sleuths doing all that image-matching legwork, but mostly just glad its done now and I can stop thinking about this man! happy to hang up my Witness 1 hat after this whole thing.”

Taake, wearing prison orange, spoke before the sentence was imposed, saying he was “not some violent, threatening monster” and he apologized to the victim officer who was in court.

“I’venever once tried to say I was innocent,” Taake said. “I screwed up. I did things I should not have done.”

Taake said he was “seeing red” when he committed the assaults, and “got caught up in the moment.”

More than 1,400 people have been charged in connection with the Capitol attack, and prosecutors have secured convictions against more than 1,000 defendants. Roughly 500 defendants have been sentenced to periods of incarceration ranging from a few days behind bars to 22 years in federal prison.

Ryan J. Reilly

Ryan J. Reilly is a justice reporter for NBC News.

Jan. 6 rioter caught in a woman’s Bumble dating app sting sentenced to prison (2024)


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