News & Record, Greensboro, N.C.
An attorney for the former High Point police officer convicted in March on charges stemming from the Jan. 6, 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol is asking that she serve six months of home detention — a stark contrast from the 97 to 121 months of incarceration recommended by prosecutors.
Laura Steele of Thomasville was among four people associated with the Oath Keepers who were convicted March 20 of conspiracy and obstruction charges. Steele’s attorney, Peter Cooper, is asking that home detention be followed by a period of supervision and community service.
In court documents, Cooper also requested that Steele’s supervision would become unsupervised upon completion of community service. Her sentencing was set for Sept. 11, but that date may change, according to information provided Wednesday by Cooper’s office.
Court documents filed by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia state that Steele “deserves a significant sentence.”
“Laura Steele is arguably the most culpable of all five defendants being sentenced. As someone who spent a career in law enforcement, she was in a better position than most to appreciate the grave dangers posed by her conduct and the conduct of her co-conspirators on January 6,” prosecutors said in a sentencing memorandum.
Steele and four other defendants were convicted of “participating in an unprecedented conspiracy to stop members of Congress from performing their constitutionally required duty to review and certify the results of the 2020 presidential election,” prosecutors wrote. “…the seriousness of this offense cannot be overstated.”
Cooper, on Steele’s behalf, wrote that Steele was a supporter of former President Donald Trump and looks back on Jan. 6, 2021 with regret. “Quite simply her experiences on that day have left an indelible sour taste in her mouth and she wants to put it in the past and close the door as quickly as possible.”
He wrote that Steele is very frightened about what could happen at her sentencing “but she wishes to make the Court aware that she knows she’s here based on her own actions and takes responsibility.”
When she was charged, Steele’s indictment alleged that she submitted an application to the Florida chapter of the Oath Keepers on Jan. 3, 2021. The Oath Keepers are a far-right antigovernment extremist group. In her application, according to court documents, she said she had been in law enforcement for 13 years, working as a SWAT officer and a K-9 officer.
Steele was hired by the High Point Police Department in March 1992, and was suspended without pay for two days in July 2004 for violation of professional behavior and conduct. She was fired on Aug. 27, 2004, for conduct toward superior personnel, absence from duty and violation of communication policy.
In 2001, she worked as a school-resource officer as part of her duties with the High Point Police Department. She was investigated and cleared in two separate incidents in which she pepper-sprayed students.
In a previous interview with the Winston-Salem Journal, Cooper said that Steele had worked as a public service officer with Novant Health since 2014. She had been registered with the Private Protective Services Board since 2018, but that registration was suspended due to the federal charges. According to court documents, she is on leave from her security job.
According to the indictment, she, her brother and others dressed in paramilitary clothing went into the U.S. Capitol in a military-style “stack” formation, meaning members kept their hands on the backs or vests of the person in front of them as they moved into the building.
It was also alleged that Steele and her brother used a burn pit in Steele’s backyard the next day to destroy evidence, including their clothing.
In June 2021, Gordon Young, Steele’s brother, pleaded guilty to conspiracy and obstruction of justice.
— Staff reports and wire services contributed to this report.
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