A former U.S. Marine reservist and engineer from Cranberry avoided prison on Tuesday for breaching the Capitol in support of Donald Trump’s lies and will serve probation instead.

U.S. District Judge John Bates gave Jordan Bonenberger, 28, 18 months of supervised release instead of the 14 days in jail that prosecutors wanted.

Bonenberger had pleaded guilty to misdemeanor counts related to the attack on the Capitol. He’d been charged with entering a restricted building, disorderly conduct on restricted grounds and in the Capitol and demonstrating in the Capitol.

His co-defendant, Melanie Lanham of Shaler, previously pleaded guilty, and Judge Bates gave her probation and community service.

The two are among more than two dozen people from Western Pennsylvania prosecuted in the insurrection. The FBI investigation is ongoing with more defendants being arrested every week. Trump, meanwhile, is facing his own criminal cases for his role in the attack and the events leading up to it.

Bonenberger and Lanham, formerly known as Melanie Archer, drove to Washington together on Jan. 6, 2021, for then-President Trump’s Stop the Steal rally. Video showed them among the Trump mob.

The Pittsburgh FBI identified Bonenberger through witnesses. Tipsters also said Lanham was with him. Both refused to be interviewed by agents at first but later did give statements.

Lanham admitted that she entered the Capitol and took a selfie near then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office. She penetrated more deeply into the building, she said, because she was trying to find a bathroom. Prosecutors didn’t believe her and asked for a month in jail, but the judge gave her a break.

Bonenberger’s lawyer, John Hull, asked that his client also receive a break, saying he is an “ideal candidate” for probation.

“Given the quality of Bonenberger’s military career, the kind of life he has lived this far, and what the record of this action should be making clear about him, the government’s suggestion that his lapse of judgment for some minutes he now wishes never occurred justifies a short-term imprisonment is a bit over-the-top,” Hull wrote in a sentencing memo.

Hull directed the judge to character letters written for Bonenberger by his Marine enlisted adviser and the student ministry director at his church in the Wexford area.

Bonenberger was raised in the Pittsburgh region and graduated from Mt. Lebanon High School in 2013 and earned an engineering degree from Geneva College in 2017. Hull said he works in the Pittsburgh office for a North Carolina-based engineering firm. He joined the Marines in 2019 and served in the reserves until last year.

Hull said Bonenberger understands that breaching the Capitol was “serious and wrong.” But he said except for that day, Bonenberger has led a “solid, steady, somewhat quiet and well-rounded life in which he consistently and positively affects a wide variety of people around him.”

Torsten covers the courts for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, but he's currently on strike. Reach him at jtorsteno@gmail.com.

Torsten Ove

Torsten covers the courts for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, but he's currently on strike. Reach him at jtorsteno@gmail.com.