The Salt Lake City officer retired in 2017 and in January pleaded guilty to an insurgency-related misdemeanor charge.
A former Salt Lake City police officer escaped from prison for participating in the attack on the US Capitol on January 6, 2021.
U.S. District Judge Timothy Kelly on Monday sentenced Michael Lee Hardin, 50, of Kaysville, to 18 months probation and 60 hours of community service, and ordered him to pay $500 restitution for a single charge of offense of marching, demonstrating or picketing in a Capitol, to which he pleaded guilty in January.
Federal prosecutors had asked Hardin to serve 45 days in jail, but Kelly did not include any jail time in Hardin’s sentence.
On January 7, the FBI received an anonymous tip that Hardin had been inside the US Capitol during the insurgency. According to an FBI statement, Hardin called a friend two days before the Capitol stormed to tell him he was going to Washington, DC, to “fight for the United States.”
On January 6, the same friend received text messages from Hardin that read, “We stormed the Capitol, I’m here now!”; I know you don’t like Trump, but he’s the rightful president! ; and “We’ll be back until we win!”
On Jan. 10, another friend contacted the FBI and told agents that Hardin was at the Capitol on Jan. 6 and provided a photo of the former officer wearing a Trump hat and standing next to a bust of Abraham Lincoln. inside the Capitol.
The FBI also obtained video of Hardin from several locations inside the Capitol and determined that his cellphone was there on January 6. When officers questioned Hardin, he “maintained that despite his two decades of police service, he didn’t realize he had broken the law on January 6 until he got a call from the FBI agent.
“It didn’t cross his mind on January 6th, at the very least, he should have gone through security to enter the Capitol building,” court records say.
According to court documents, one of Hardin’s former police colleagues called him a “good and moral man. … I am saddened that this momentary lack of reason leaves a lasting scar on a personal and professional level.
Hardin retired from the Salt Lake City Police Department in 2017 and was arrested in April 2021.
As an officer, he was named the department’s Officer of the Year in 2012 for his role in solving a 25-year-old murder case. In 2016, Hardin sued the city, the police department, its chief, deputy chief, two officers and an assistant county attorney after an off-duty dispute with co-workers allegedly created a workplace dispute. The case was later dismissed.
Hardin had originally been charged with knowingly entering or remaining in a building or restricted area without lawful authority; disorderly and disruptive conduct in a building or restricted area; disorderly conduct at the Capitol; and marching, demonstrating or picketing the Capitol, according to a press release. The first three charges were dropped as part of his January plea deal.
He traveled to the nation’s capital with his mother-in-law, Janet West Buhler, who also entered the US Capitol on January 6, 2021, according to the FBI. She pleaded guilty in January 2022 to a misdemeanor charge of marching, demonstrating, or picketing a Capitol building, and has yet to be sentenced.