Jenna Ryan, a Frisco, Texas-based Realtor who made headlines for taking a private jet to Washington D.C. before participating in the Capitol Hill riot and later claiming her “blond hair” and “white skin” would keep her out of jail, has been sentenced to 60 days behind bars.
Ryan infamously stormed the U.S. Capitol building, leveraged images from the insurrection to plug her real estate business and asked Donald Trump for a pardon in the waning days of his presidency — which she did not receive. She was arrested after she allegedly appeared in a video inside and on the steps of the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, pitching her real estate services and shouting “Y’all know who to hire for your Realtor. Jenna Ryan for your Realtor.”
In August, she pleaded guilty to demonstrating inside the Capitol building. The misdemeanor crime that comes with a $500 restitution fine — which the judge imposed — and a chance of landing up to six months in jail, which the judge set at two months at the request of prosecutors.
Ryan, a currently licensed broker at First Place Real Estate, tweeted on March 26 that she was “Definitely not going to jail. Sorry I have blonde hair white skin a great job a great future and I’m not going to jail.”
🚨SENTENCE: Judge Christopher Cooper sentences Jenna Ryan to 60 days in prison + $500 in restitution on one count of parading, demonstrating or picketing in a Capitol building. Ryan had infamously claimed her blonde hair and white skin would keep her out of jail. #CapitolRiot pic.twitter.com/pkocUhM783
— Jordan Fischer (@JordanOnRecord) November 4, 2021
At her sentencing hearing on Thursday, U.S. District Judge Christopher Cooper of Washington D.C. told Ryan that he believed her punishment would tell Americans “something about the courts and about how our country responded to what happened, and I think the sentence should tell them that we take it seriously,” according to The Daily Beast.
Cooper said Ryan knew what she was doing when she decided to join the rioters not directly from Trump’s rally that morning but after going back to her hotel and seeing television footage of the mob at the Capitol, according to CBS affiliate WUSA.
“No one is being prosecuted for coming to Washington,” Cooper said. “No one is being prosecuted for the belief that the election was stolen. If you had the good sense not to leave your hotel room, or not go in once you saw what was happening, you wouldn’t be here.”
Cooper also cited Ryan’s apparent lack of remorse for her behavior, according to The Washington Post.
“You’ve been very upfront that you feel no sense of shame or guilt,” Cooper said. “You suggested antifa was somehow involved. And perhaps most famously, you said that because you had blonde hair and white skin, you wouldn’t be going to jail.”
In a letter to the court, Ryan said that at the time of that tweet she “was trying to maintain my dignity to a mob of haters who were harassing me relentlessly by social media, phone and email,” and that she did not “feel that I am immune to punishment due to my appearance and social status,” according to the Post.
While Ryan emphasized that she had only been in the Capitol building for a few minutes and didn’t engage in any violence, a sentencing memo for the U.S. Attorney’s office for D.C., Ryan knew that the event could and had become violent, broadcasting repeated statements that the day was a “prelude” to “war” and streaming from her hotel room that “we’re gonna go down and storm the Capitol; they’re down there right now and that’s why we came [.]”
Once at the Capitol, the memo continued, Ryan promoted violence, recording herself saying, “we’re all gonna be up here, we’re gonna be breakin’ those windows, we’re gonna be havin’ to deal with the tear bombs” and after entering the Capitol, she joined shouts to “Fight for Trump” and “Hang Mike Pence” and said “we’re pushing our way in” before leaving due to tear gas.
The memo noted that as she broadcast herself breaching the Capitol, Ryan streamed on Facebook Live, “You guys, will you believe this? I am not messing around. When I come to sell your house, this is what I will do. I will f***ing sell your house.”
According to the memo, in a later message on January 11, Ryan boasted, “And I’m becoming famous from this. And I’m getting lots and lots of business lined up for when all this blows over …”
Ryan received the sentence prosecutors had pushed for.
“[T]he defendant’s participation in a riot that actually succeeded in delaying the Congressional certification combined with her promotion and celebration of violence, her consistent and public lack of remorse, her dishonesty and sense of impunity, her mercenary exploitation of the riot, and her greater potential to incite future violence renders a custodial sentence both necessary and appropriate in this case,” the memo said.
Moreover, prosecutors suggested that the sentence was necessary as a deterrent.
“A defendant who believes she is immune from strict punishment because of her race and physical appearance may reoffend because the consequences for wrongdoing will never, in the defendant’s mind, be severe even when severity is merited,” the memo said.
At the sentencing hearing, Ryan expressed remorse, saying, “I made a mistake and I’m sorry. You will never see me in this light again, I promise. It’s not anything that remotely resembles who I am, and I’m sorry.”
Asked whether Ryan would receive any penalty from any Realtor association for her actions related to Jan. 6, National Association of Realtors spokesperson Mantill Williams said via email that the 1.5 million-member trade group had “made clear our disillusionment, disappointment and disgust at what took place that day in our nation’s capital.
“NAR has and will continue to stand with and support federal law enforcement as they work to thoroughly investigate those tragic events and ensure all those responsible are prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”
Williams said local Realtor associations are responsible for enforcing the Realtor Code of Ethics and local associations manage complaints of violations of the code.
“Although all such allegations or complaints are processed in accordance with the legally-sound and longstanding procedures set forth in NAR’s Code of Ethics and Arbitration Manual, the Code of Ethics in general does not apply to criminal activity,” he said.
While the code itself generally doesn’t apply to criminal activity, in NAR’s Code of Ethics and Arbitration Manual there’s a policy that local associations can use to discipline Realtors that have been convicted of crimes. The manual states that disciplinary action may be taken against a member “[o]n a member being convicted, adjudged, or otherwise recorded as guilty by a final judgment of any court of competent jurisdiction of a felony or a crime involving moral turpitude.”
NAR has previously told Inman that the provision relates to membership qualification. Williams confirmed that Ryan remains a Realtor. Asked whether there will be any penalty for her under this or any other Realtor policy, Williams said, “Realtor membership qualification criteria are enforced at the local association level.”
Inman has reached out to Mary Leidy and Jonna Fernandez, CEO and COO, respectively of the Collin County Association of Realtors in Plano, Texas, for comment and will update this story if and when we hear back.