WASHINGTON — Federal prosecutors have asked a judge in Washington, D.C., to sentence Nicholas Ochs, the founder of the Hawaii chapter of the Proud Boys, to 51 months in prison for his part in the Jan. 6, 2021, riot at the U.S. Capitol.

Ochs, 36, pleaded guilty in September to one count of obstruction of an official proceeding for his part in trying to delay the certification of the 2020 presidential election won by Joe Biden.

According to the U.S. Justice Department, Ochs and a co-defendant, Nicholas DeCarlo, 32, of Fort Worth, Texas, marched on the Capitol with other supporters of former President Donald Trump to protest the election results.

A DOJ exhibit shows Nicholas Ochs, left, and Nicholas DeCarlo, right, storming the U.S. Capitol with smiles on their faces. U.S. Justice Department/2022

The duo overran police barricades, threw smoke bombs at officers, lit up cigarettes in the Capitol rotunda and posed together for photos in front of a door scrawled with the words, “Murder the Media,” which was the name of their right-wing social media platform.

“These were no teenage pranks,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Alexis Loeb wrote in a 49-page sentencing memo filed Friday in federal court. “Ochs’ conduct targeted the police and Congress – and like the conduct of every rioter that day, threatened democracy itself.

“By attempting to inject humor and a carnival atmosphere into the breach (a breach that had staffers hiding under desks and officers fearing for their lives), Ochs created an environment that downplayed the threat, normalized violence, and encouraged the rampant lawlessness that unfolded at the Capitol.”

Ochs and DeCarlo are expected to file their responses to the government’s sentencing request on Tuesday.

Prosecutors have asked that DeCarlo, who has ties to the Proud Boys, serve 48 months in prison for his part in the riot.

Ochs is a former Marine who attended college at the University of Hawaii. In 2020, he ran for the state House of Representatives as a Republican and lost badly in the general election after winning the primary.

He has said he was working as a journalist when the pro-Trump mob attacked the Capitol building, but prosecutors have presented reams of evidence to undercut that defense and highlight what they’ve described as a coordinated campaign by the Proud Boys to undermine Congress’ counting of electoral college votes.

The DOJ sentencing memo describes Ochs as a “Proud Boys Elder,” meaning he’s among the highest ranking members in the extremist organization.

Leading up to the Jan. 6 attack, prosecutors say, Ochs was part of several group chats on encrypted messaging applications, including one dubbed the “Official Presidents’ Chat” and another named “Skull and Bones,” where he communicated directly with Proud Boys leaders Enrique Tarrio and Ethan Nordean. Tarrio and Nordean were charged with seditious conspiracy for their roles in the attempted insurrection.

Prosecutors say that surveillance footage shows Nicholas Ochs throwing a smoke bomb at police during the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol. U.S. Justice Department/2022

According to the DOJ, the messages show just how intimately involved Ochs was in the planning that took place ahead of Jan. 6. The messages offer a glimpse into what prosecutors say was Ochs’ willingness to encourage and use violence.

On Nov. 7, 2020, for instance, Tarrio lamented Biden’s victory in one of the group chats.

“Dark times if it isn’t reversed … and if it’s reversed … civil war,” he said.

Another Proud Boy responded, “It’s civil war either way.”

Ochs initially disagreed. He said his faith was in the U.S. Supreme Court, which was loaded with conservatives, including three Trump nominees, to overturn the results of the election. He encouraged patience, noting that it took the high court more than a month to resolve the electoral dispute between Al Gore and George W. Bush in 2000.

“I’m pro violence but don’t blow your load too soon,” Ochs said. “Not to be an anti-murder buzzkill but I really think this ISN’T fucked. Once it is, let’s go wild.”

The Supreme Court was the best chance for overturning the election, he said. Violence would likely fail, at least in the moment.

“I’ll still chimp out if I’m wrong about the Supreme Court tho … we just have to TIME IT RIGHT and DO IT SMART,” he said.

Loeb’s sentencing memo states that Ochs was a key contributor to another chat called the “Ministry of Self Defense” that was created in the days preceding the Jan. 6 attack. It was there that news broke of Tarrio’s arrest for burning a “Black Lives Matter” banner that had been stolen from a church.

Ochs, who was traveling from Honolulu to Washington at the time, messaged Nordean.

“I guess we’re senior leadership in DC till Enrique is sprung,” he said.

Read the DOJ’s sentencing memorandums here:

Support Civil Beat during the season of giving.

As a small nonprofit newsroom, our mission is powered by readers like you. But did you know that less than 1% of readers donate to Civil Beat?

Give today and support local journalism that helps to inform, empower and connect.

About the Author