WASHINGTON — Nicholas Ochs, the founder of the Hawaii chapter of the Proud Boys who boasted on social media about storming the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday was arrested and charged by the federal government for taking part in the riot.
Ochs was charged by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Washington, D.C., but was arrested Thursday night at Daniel K. Inouye International Airport in Honolulu.
He is currently being held in the Federal Detention Center, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
Ochs’ initial appearance before a federal judge is scheduled to occur in Hawaii on Monday. Documents filed in the case indicate that the government will not seek to keep Ochs detained.
Ochs was not shy about his involvement in the violent insurrection that was spurred on by President Donald Trump’s false claims and conspiracy theories that the 2020 election he lost to former Vice President Joe Biden was rigged in favor of the Democrat.
On Twitter, Ochs posted a selfie of himself and another man smoking cigarettes in the halls of the Capitol building shortly after the mob overran police and broke through the windows and doors to get inside.
“Hello from the Capital lol,” he said in the post.
Ochs also spoke to CNN about his involvement in the raid, telling the network that he was there as a “professional journalist” and that he did not enter any congressional offices or chambers.
“We didn’t have to break in, I just walked in and filmed,” Ochs said. “There were thousands of people in there — they had no control of the situation. I didn’t get stopped or questioned.”
The criminal complaint, which was unsealed Friday, charges Ochs with misdemeanor unlawful entry into restricted buildings or grounds.
The FBI used Ochs’ own photos and words against him when requesting a warrant for his arrest.
An affidavit signed by FBI Special Agent Roger Dean, who investigates violent gang and criminal drug enterprises out of the Washington, D.C. field office, states that he used both Ochs’ Twitter boasts and his comments to CNN to identify him as a member of the pro-Trump mob that breached Capitol security.
Dean noted that Ochs is a well known member of the Proud Boys, a far-right extremist group that’s prone to political violence, and that he even has a tattoo with the name emblazoned on his right forearm.
He also pointed out that Ochs was a candidate for public office in Hawaii. Ochs ran as a Republican for a state House seat representing Waikiki in 2020, and was endorsed by the Hawaii GOP. He lost the election to Democrat Adrian Tam.
“It does not surprise me. This is a person who has made offensive remarks about the Jewish community, women, the LGBT community, immigrants, Muslims, you name it, he’s made fun of it,” Tam told Hawaii News Now.
The Proud Boys have made clear their intentions to oppose the results of the presidential election, Dean said, with some even advocating for violence.
Ochs was among those who sought to subvert the results of the election.
Dean included in his affidavit comments Ochs made on the social media app Parler, which is used by conspiracy theorists and members of the far-right.
On Nov. 16, Ochs reposted a tweet from Trump in which the president declared, “I WON THE ELECTION!” and then provided his own commentary about how to make those words a reality.
“Show this tweet to leftists and say they won’t do shit when he just keeps being president,” Ochs wrote. “Don’t say it was stolen or rigged. Just say we’re doing it and they won’t fight back. They are getting scared, and they don’t function when they’re scared.”
Ochs did not respond to a Civil Beat request for comment. A call made to his cell phone went directly to voicemail.
Ochs will be represented by Honolulu-based defense lawyer Myles Breiner when he appears in court next week for his initial appearance.
Breiner is known to taking on high profile cases.
Among his past clients are retired Honolulu Police Chief Louis Kealoha and his wife, Katherine, a former city prosecutor. The Kealohas were recently sentenced to federal prison for committing a series of crimes related to corruption and abuse of power.
In an interview Friday with Civil Beat, Breiner described himself as a liberal Democrat who considered what happened Wednesday to be a “disgrace.” But he also said his client doesn’t deserve full blame for what happened.
He said the finger should be pointed directly at Trump and his acolytes who encouraged Ochs and others to lay siege to the Capitol.
The Capitol police, who did not heed warnings about the severity of the threat and in some cases appeared to allow rioters to flow freely into the building, should also shoulder some of the blame, he said.
“With all due respect to the government, this is all about face-saving,” Breiner said.
Ochs was an “easy target” for prosecution because he’s a well-known member of the Proud Boys as well as a public figure who ran for office, Breiner said.
Ochs was brazen in his decision to post images of himself in the Capitol rotunda on the internet for anyone to see, Breiner said, but he wasn’t accused of committing any violent acts.
If anything, Breiner said, his client has been charged with the federal equivalent of trespassing.
“He was an easy target,” Breiner said. “I think the Department of Justice needs to be careful not to make him into a martyr.”
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