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A southern Minnesota man has been sentenced to prison after being accused of bragging about his illegal shotgun and plans to kill a law enforcement officer at a rally in support of former President Donald Trump at the Minnesota Capitol in January 2021.

Dayton C. Sauke, 23, of Owatonna, was sentenced Tuesday in federal court in Minneapolis to slightly more than 2½ years in prison for possession of an unregistered firearm. He was arrested after he allegedly sold an illegal firearm to two undercover agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF).

Many of Sauke's social media posts reflected anti-government sentiments similar to the Boogaloo Bois, according to court records. One social media photo showed Sauke carrying a gun along with the caption "Sic Semper Tyrannis," a Latin phrase co-opted by the Boogaloo movement meaning justice will befall tyrants. The same words were uttered by Abraham Lincoln's assassin and appeared on Timothy McVeigh's T-shirt the day he killed 168 people in the 1995 bombing of a federal building in Oklahoma City.

"Sauke's actions and statements leading up to his arrest were very concerning, which is why law enforcement quickly intervened," ATF Special Agent in Charge William J. McCrary, of the St. Paul Field Division, said in a statement that followed sentencing. Sauke pleaded guilty in August.

Before sentencing, the prosecution filed an argument for Sauke to be given a sentence two months longer than he ultimately received. The filing at times truck a sympathetic tone toward Sauke, pointing out that he "is a young man who has had some recent mental health diagnoses and treatment, which may improve the likelihood that he can become a productive, law-abiding citizen."

The filing also referenced that Sauke "was employed as an electrician apprentice and was described as dependable and a great asset to the team. However, it would be preferable for the defendant to apply his work ethic and entrepreneurial skills toward lawful activities."

The defense also filed a presentence argument, but it's been sealed from the public because it contained "personal medical information," said Andrew Mohring, Sauke's attorney.

In an interview Wednesday, Mohring said he raised during sentencing several what he called undisputed facts that reflected positively on his client.

"He has responded to treatment very well over the course of his year in custody since the offense," Mohring said, "That this pre-sentence rehabilitation came on top of a solid employment history and positive work references, and that the law enforcement investigation and surveillance that ran for an extended stretch of time before his arrest confirmed that he took no actions in the direction of the inflammatory statements the prosecution cited."

According to court records. Sauke posted on Snapchat and his public-facing Instagram page photos of himself holding guns alongside far-right sentiments and expressions of a desire to kill someone, namely a police officer or politician. One post showed him burning an American flag with a blue stripe — a symbol of the pro-law enforcement Blue Lives Matter movement — alongside the caption: "Police lives don't matter."

Federal agents began monitoring Sauke in 2020 after a confidential informant said he posted on social media about manufacturing and selling guns.

According to court documents: Law enforcement agents monitored Sauke's Snapchat account, where he made numerous posts implicating himself in manufacturing and dealing firearms without a license. Sauke also posted pictures of a short-barreled shotgun and made several threatening posts about killing law enforcement and politicians.

On Jan. 12, 2021, as plans circulated for armed rallies at the Minnesota Capitol to protest the results of the presidential election, Sauke began to post more about killing law enforcement there, and appeared to urge others to do the same. "If it's only me out here killing police," he posted, then the "left" will cast him as a white supremacist.

Three days later, he met the ATF agents in a Walmart parking lot in Fari­bault. Both posed as potential customers interested in buying guns. He sold one of the agents a gun for $1,500, and they paid him another $900 after negotiating another sale.

Sauke told the agents he sold 120 firearms in 2020, according to the charges, and he showed them pictures of other guns on his cellphone.

After arresting him, the agents saw the sawed-off shotgun in his car next to ammunition.

Star Tribune staff writer Andy Mannix contributed to this report.