After traveling to Moscow to be with his girlfriend, Alina Tsybulnik, he had attended a party for his girlfriend's colleagues on August 15, when he was urged to drink "a large amount of Vodka and apparently became inebriated", a family statement said.
Prosecutors accused Reed of grabbing a police officer who was behind the wheel of a auto after he was detained on August 15.
A spokeswoman for Moscow's Golovinsky district court told AFP that prosecutors asked the judge to impose a sentence of 9 years and 8 months, close to the maximum possible sentence of 10 years. Reed, they said, elbowed one in the stomach.
"Even the judge laughed", Sullivan's statement continued.
But when she arrived at the police station around 9am, Tsibulnik says she found Reed being spoken to by two members of Russia's FSB - successor to the KGB. A number of observers see the cases as a Russian effort to create leverage for a potential prisoner exchange with the USA government.
The harsh sentence against Reed, a University of North Texas student, comes after another former Marine, David Whelan, was sentenced to 16 years by a Russian court last month for espionage in a case criticized by U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
"This is completely a political case", Reed told journalists after the verdict. But last year the ministry raised the possibility that Yaroshenko, who was convicted of drug smuggling in 2011 and sentenced to 20 years in prison, could be returned "in exchange for any USA citizen" held in Russian Federation.
Anxious for his safety, his girlfriend and others called police, she said. The US ambassador, John Sullivan, said he followed the proceedings along with other cases involving US citizens. "He was in trouble, his lips were blue and he needed medical help and he wasn't answering me, he didn't know where he was".
It was inside the police auto that the man suddenly became aggressive and elbowed one officer while tugging on the arm of another - the driver - making the vehicle swerve. Tsibulnik and the people she was riding with followed the police auto to the station. The prosecutors presented a torn police jacket as evidence.
"We followed the auto and it was driving pretty slow, it wasn't swerving", she said.
Reed, meanwhile, has said in previous interviews that he has no recollection of the events - a claim his family reaffirmed to NBC News. His father Joey also said he would appeal directly to Russian President Vladimir Putin in the hope of changing his son's fate.
"I told him he needs to be father of the year", Paula Reed said of her husband's efforts.