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WASHINGTON, D.C. — Court records show that Utah Jazz legend John Stockton sent a letter of support on behalf of a Kaysville woman who pleaded guilty to charges connected to the U.S. Capitol riot on Jan. 6, 2021.
Stockton submitted the letter to Washington, D.C.'s federal court on behalf of Janet Buhler, 58, who pleaded guilty in January to a misdemeanor count of parading, demonstrating or picketing inside a capitol building. She originally was charged with five misdemeanors, but the other charges were dropped as part of a plea deal.
Stockton's letter is one of 25 from Buhler's family and friends, with each person describing their relationship with Buhler. The letters were submitted to the court as part of a sentencing memorandum filed Wednesday by Buhler's legal counsel, which is asking the judge to sentence Buhler to a term of probation rather than having her spend time in jail.
Stockton, who now lives in Spokane, Washington, said that he has known Buhler for roughly 17 years. Buhler married the Jazz's team chiropractor, whom Stockton described as "one of my closest friends."
"Janet Buhler is one of the kindest people I have ever known," Stockton wrote. He described Buhler as a piano and violin teacher and as a caring person.
Stockton was scrutinized earlier this year for his comments to the Spokesman-Review newspaper about COVID-19, and he had his season tickets to Gonzaga basketball games suspended over his refusal to wear a mask during games.
"I have never heard her raise her voice, or confront anyone. In fact, she is quite reserved," Stockton wrote of Buhler. "She is intelligent and good company. I frankly cannot imagine that Janet could knowingly break the law, nor be involved in anything destructive, ever, no matter the situation. In my opinion, Janet Buhler is a quality person of high character."
Buhler's plea deal was almost not accepted after she told a judge that she cheered and applauded the people who stormed the U.S. Capitol and said she hadn't noticed any barricades, according to a January report from Fox 13. But Buhler later acknowledged she knew was wasn't supposed to be in the Capitol that day.
Buhler was arrested on July 30 after FBI investigators kept seeing a woman in photos alongside Michael Hardin, a former Salt Lake City police officer who had, by that time, been charged. The woman in the photos was later identified as Buhler, who is Hardin's stepmother-in-law.
Both were seen in different areas of the Capitol, and FBI investigators later learned the two traveled together to Washington, according to charging documents. Investigators later pulled GPS data and found that a cellphone linked to Buhler's Facebook account was inside the Capitol that day.
Among the other letters of support sent to the court is a letter written by former Davis County Sheriff Todd Richardson. He said Buhler lived close to him as a neighbor for 15 years, and said Buhler "is well known for being pro law and pro law enforcement." He described her as a long-time "respected citizen and music teacher."
Richardson opted to not run for reelection as sheriff in 2018, capping a tenure where he had a turbulent relationship with other county leaders and his department were scrutinized, and audited, for alleged improprieties.
The former sheriff wrote that he "questioned" news reports after hearing of Buhler's arrest.
"I have found the news to often be misleading, and I gave little credit to the stories," Richardson wrote. "I believed if there was truth to any of it, that there must have been a means presented to her that led her in a path that caused question."
"Knowing Janet, I understand she is attempting to apologize for her actions," Richardson wrote. "That is exactly what I would expect from her. She will learn from the mistakes she makes and be better for having passed through them."
Federal prosecutors are asking that Buhler be sentenced to 30 days in jail and three years of probation, according to a separate sentencing memorandum filed earlier this month. Prosecutors also want Buhler to complete 60 hours of community service and pay $500 in restitution. The prosecutor's memorandum also notes that Buhler has no criminal history, and prosecutors noted she has been cooperative with law enforcement throughout the investigation.
"For example, after learning of Hardin's arrest on April 2, 2021, Buhler contacted the FBI that same day and expressed interest in turning herself in," the prosecutor's memorandum says.
Buhler faces a maximum potential sentence of up to six months in jail. She is scheduled to be sentenced in a D.C. federal court on June 1.