Ex-Lake in the Hills woman sentenced to 10 days in prison in Jan. 6 Capitol breach

A former resident of Lake in the Hills has been sentenced to 10 days in prison and fined $1,000 for charges connected with the Jan. 6, 2021, breach of the U.S. Capitol, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.

Nhi Ngoc Mai Le pleaded guilty in November to misdemeanor charges of disorderly conduct in a Capitol building or grounds and parading, demonstrating or picketing in a Capitol building, federal court records show.

Mai Le, 27, was sentenced on Monday but will start her sentence in nine months since she is a mother of a 3-month-old child, according to court documents. The U.S. attorney had requested that Mai Le serve 45 days in prison, 36 months of probation and 60 hours of community service.

Mai Le’s attorney, Heather Shaner, argued that language barriers and “limited access to information” made her client susceptible to “fear mongering propaganda and lies.”

“I endeavored to learn English, but understanding political matters and various events posed a formidable challenge,” Mai Le wrote in a court document. “Unable to grasp TV news, I relied on YouTube summaries, particularly from a YouTuber named Tran Maico, who claimed to be a lawyer. His information raised concerns about the U.S. turning Communist, reviving memories of childhood fears. This led me to participate in the events at Washington D.C. on Jan. 6.”

Mai Le was born in a rural village in Vietnam, where family members have been imprisoned and killed under the Communist regime, Shaner said in court documents.

“I feel shame and remorse. It’s embarrassing. I love this country deeply. I even have a tattoo on my hand with the date I arrived in the United States,” Mai Le said in the document. “When the news portrayed me as a troublemaker, a terrorist at the Capitol, I felt devastated and ashamed. If given a chance to redo my life, I would not have gone to D.C. on Jan. 6. The events of that day have caused me a lot of pain for a long time.”

Four charges were made against Mai Le in September: entering and remaining in a restricted building, disorderly and disruptive conduct in a restricted building, disorderly conduct in a Capitol building or grounds and parading, demonstrating or picketing in a Capitol building. The first two charges were dropped by the court, records show.

Graves described the Jan. 6 Capitol attack as “a violent attack that forced an interruption of Congress’s certification of the 2020 Electoral College vote count, threatened the peaceful transfer of power after the 2020 Presidential election, injured more than one hundred police officers and resulted in more than $2.9 million in losses.”

Mai Le, whom court documents now list as living in Montgomery, spent about six minutes inside the Capitol building and filmed the crowd, U.S. Attorney Matthew Graves said.

The FBI was able to identify Mai Le because she posted “several pictures to her Facebook account of herself at a rally in Washington, D.C., and inside the U.S. Capitol building,” according to a criminal complaint filed against Mai Le in federal court.

It also was anonymously reported to the FBI National Threat Operations Center that Mai Le was present at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, according to the complaint.

The FBI interviewed Mai Le on April 14, 2021, at her place of employment, an unidentified business in Johnsburg, and on Feb. 22, 2022, at her home, according to the complaint.

In an email Monday, Mai Le’s attorney referred to her as “a wonderful young woman. As the Judge said, she has learned her lesson and Judge [Tanya] Chutkan wished her good luck in the future as a mother, business woman and good citizen.”

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