U.P. man pleads guilty in Jan. 6 insurrection, gets credit for time served

Beth LeBlanc
The Detroit News

A 40-year-old Upper Peninsula man received six months in prison — time he's already served in a District of Columbia jail — and $500 in restitution for his involvement in the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. 

Karl Dresch of Calumet pleaded guilty Wednesday to a misdemeanor count of willfully and knowingly parading, demonstrating or picketing in a Capitol building. Four other counts, including obstructing an official proceeding and entering or remaining on restricted grounds, were dismissed.

Dresch received credit for the six months he already served, so his sentence essentially is already served. 

While Dresch talked tough on social media about the Jan. 6 events, "his actions did not match his rhetoric" at the Capitol that day, said D.C. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson. 

"We’re not here today because he supported the former president," Berman Jackson said. "Millions of people voted for him and did not heed his call to descend on the nation’s Capitol. He was arrested because he was an enthusiastic participant in an effort to subvert and undo the electoral process.

"At the end of the day, the fact is that the defendant came to the Capitol because he placed his trust in someone who repaid that trust by lying to him," she said.

Karl Dresch sent this photo of a pose next to a statue of former Vice President John C. Calhoun inside the U.S. Capitol during the Jan. 6 insurrection to an associate on Jan. 8, FBI agents said. Dresch received six months in prison — time he's already served in a D.C. jail — and $500 in restitution for his involvement in the incident.

In their case against Dresch, federal prosecutors shared photographs posted on Facebook, including one with the title “We are in" that a U.S. Capitol police officer confirmed shows the inside of the U.S. Capitol Building. The photo shows "specifically, the 'Crypt,' a location under the rotunda in the center of the Capitol," according to a court filing.

Dresch was inside the Capitol for approximately 25 minutes, entering through a door on the Senate side and exiting through a window, prosecutors said Wednesday. 

While his actions may have been less threatening than others, his social media posts before and after the event referring to Vice President Mike Pence as a traitor, equating the Jan. 6 insurrection to July 4, 1776 and promising afterward that "we will be back stronger" gave some insight into Dresch's intent, Assistant U.S. Attorney Jessica Blackwell said. 

"We believe that those commentaries and those passions and that support for what happened on Jan. 6 ... would warrant a term of incarceration at the higher end," Blackwell said. 

While his entry was illegal, Dresch was respectful, he didn't break anything and he didn't hurt anyone, Berman Jackson said. In that sense, it's appropriate to differentiate him from other Jan. 6 defendants, she added.

Still, Dresch's social media posts showed little in the way of remorse.

"He was not chastened or shocked when he turned on the news and saw the defilement and destruction that was left behind or saw what happened to the many law enforcement officers," Berman Jackson said. "On Jan. 7, 2021, he commented on someone else’s post by saying, ‘Mike Pence gave our country to the communist horde. Traitor scum like the rest of them. We have your back. Give the word and we will be back even stronger.’”

During his arraignment earlier this year, Dresch said he worked in the flooring industry but noted business was slow. He was considered indigent and given court-appointed counsel.

Dresch was found guilty of fleeing and eluding police in Wisconsin in relation to a 2013 offense, according to Wisconsin circuit court records. One or more other charges were dismissed against him.

Wisconsin’s The Daily News reported in 2014 that Dresch, then a 33-year-old Hancock resident, led police on a chase through the state’s Iron and Florence counties and into Michigan’s Iron County on June 7, 2013. The chase, the newspaper reported, reached speeds up to 146 miles per hour.

Dresch is the son of former Michigan Rep. Stephen Dresch, R-Hancock, according to public records. Rep. Stephen Dresch, who passed away in 2006, served in the state House of Representatives from 1990-92 and unsuccessfully ran for Congress.

A former business and economics dean at Michigan Technological University, Stephen Dresch helped expose fraud by an investment arm of the university as he was entering the Legislature. As a legislator, he was a vocal critic of a 1993 House Fiscal Agency scandal in which $300,000 was spent for unauthorized employee bonuses and legal fees by the agency. 

In 2005, Stephen Dresch tipped off the FBI and members of Congress to explosives that were hidden in the former home of Terry Nichols, a Michigan resident convicted as an accomplice to Timothy McVeigh in the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing.

Prosecutors have charged more than 500 people nationwide in connection to the Jan. 6 insurrection, including 11 from Michigan.

eleblanc@detroitnews.com