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Longest sentence yet given out to Jan. 6 defendant

Troy Smocks was sentenced to 14 months in prison after threatening to return to the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 19 with a mob and weapons.

WASHINGTON (CN) — A federal judge sentenced a Dallas man to 14 months in prison on Thursday for his role in the Jan. 6 U.S. Capitol riot, unimpressed by his claim that he’s the victim of racism and astounded that he didn’t express more remorse for threatening to return to the Capitol two weeks later with a mob and weapons. 

It’s the longest sentence given to a Jan. 6 defendant yet. 

“I listened to every word Mr. Smocks said today and I did not hear any remorse. I’ve only heard what you have suffered,” said U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan, a Barack Obama appointee. “There was not a single word of acknowledgment of the enormity and severity of what you did.”

In September, Troy Smocks, 58, pleaded guilty to transmitting threats in interstate commerce, a felony with a maximum sentence of five years in prison. 

Prosecutors asked that Smocks be given time “in the low end” of the sentencing guideline range, which ranges from eight to 16 months. But, Chutkan, who has gone above the government’s sentencing recommendations for Capitol rioters four times, opted to sentence Smocks in the higher end of the guidelines. 

Smocks never breached the Capitol building on Jan. 6, but instead stayed in his hotel room in the Washington area and posted on the conservative-friendly social network Parler: “Many of us will return on January 19th, 2021, carrying our weapons in support of Our nation’s resolve, to which the world will never forget. We will come in numbers that no standing army or police agency can match.”

More than 60,000 people viewed the post. 

The following day, Smocks wrote on Parler, “Prepare our weapons, and then go get ’em. Let's hunt these cowards down like the Traitors that each of them are. This includes RINOS, Dems, and Tech Execs... Today, the cowards ran as We took the Capital. They have it back now, only because We left. It wasn’t the building that We wanted. . . it was them!”

An additional 54,000 people viewed Smocks’ second post. 

“Mr. Smocks, from the safety of his hotel room, had the nerve to call the people trying to defend the Capitol that day 'cowards.' He had the audacity to call the rioters 'patriots,’” Chutkan said.

Smocks’ defense attorney John Machado argued that because Smocks’ threats weren’t directed at anyone in particular, they were less severe. 

“You might want to tell that to the members of Congress who were hiding under their desks in the Capitol that day,” Chutkan retorted. 

When Smocks, who is Black, had a chance to speak, he claimed that he was being treated unfairly in both the jail — where he has been since his arrest in January — and in the court system. 

“The Justice Department hasn’t been even-handed with me, they’ve treated me worse than the white defendants,” Smocks said, erroneously claiming that he is the only Black man to be locked up for his connection to Jan. 6. “Your honor, this is racism.”

Smocks mentioned that Capitol rioter Dawn Bancroft, who is white, was allowed to plead guilty to a misdemeanor despite saying that she was “looking for Nancy [Pelosi] to shoot her in the friggin’ brain” on the way out of the Capitol. Smocks also said that he has the same standpoint and view of justice as the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

“Mr. Smocks, on Jan. 6, encouraged people fighting law enforcement, many of whom were violent and defaced laws of Congress,” Chutkan said. “Mr. Smocks seeks to somehow compare himself and drape himself in the mantle of civil rights and racial equality. I, for one, don’t buy it.”

The judge said she hasn’t seen “a scintilla of evidence” that protesters are being treated unfairly because of their race or gender. 

“To come into this courtroom and you try to make yourself the victim of racism, I find that offensive,” she said. “People die fighting for civil rights. For you to hold yourself up as a soldier in that fight is audacious.”

Smocks has a lengthy criminal history, with 18 prior convictions beginning from when he was 17, though the vast majority of his crimes occurred more than 20 years ago. Several of the convictions were for pretending to be a federal agent or law enforcement officer. Smocks also has a history of violating his probation and supervised release. 

During the hearing on Thursday, Chutkan decided not to factor in a 2003 forgery into Smocks’ sentencing, which would have upped his sentencing guidelines to 10-16 months. 

Since Smocks already served nine months in a jail in Washington, he will serve five more in a Dallas-area prison before three years of probation. 

Kevin Blakely, also from Dallas, pleaded guilty to one count of parading, demonstrating or picketing in a Capitol building on Thursday. He faces up to six months in prison. 

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