(AP) — The founder of the Hawaii Proud Boys chapter and a Texas man who stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, and posed for a picture in front a door on which one of them had written “Murder the Media” each pleaded guilty Friday in federal court to a felony charge in connection with the riot.
Nicholas Ochs, founder of the far-right extremist group’s Hawaii chapter and a onetime Republican state House candidate, and Nicholas DeCarlo, of Fort Worth, Texas, admitted to obstructing the congressional certification of President Joe Biden’s Electoral College victory.
They shared a social media channel called “Murder the Media” and initially claimed to be working as journalists on Jan. 6, according to the government.
Federal guidelines for Ochs, 36, and DeCarlo, 32, call for sentences between about 3 1/2 years and four years behind bars, although the judge can decide to go above or below that. In exchange for pleading guilty, prosecutors agreed to dismiss several other charges against them. They are to be sentenced in December.
Edward MacMahon, a lawyer for Ochs, noted after the hearing that his client did not injure anyone at the Capitol and said he hopes Ochs is sentenced consistent with others who did not participate in any violence. A lawyer for DeCarlo did not immediately reply to an email seeking comment.
Ochs and DeCarlo attended the “Stop the Steal” rally near the White House in support of then-President Donald Trump on the morning of Jan. 6 and then marched together to the Capitol. The men admitted to throwing smoke bombs at a line of police trying to keep the mob from the stage set up for Biden’s inauguration.
DeCarlo admitted to writing “Murder The Media” in permanent marker on a door in the Capitol building, prosecutors said. The men then posed in front of the door with a thumbs-up sign. DeCarlo also rummaged through a Capitol police officer’s bag and stole a pair of plastic handcuffs, prosecutors said.
Ochs posted on Twitter a picture of the men smoking cigarettes inside the Capitol, and the caption said: “Hello from the Capital lol,” according to court papers.
After leaving the building, they filmed a video together in which Ochs said they came to “stop the steal” and DeCarlo declared: “We did it,” the government said. “Sorry we couldn’t go live when we stormed the f—-in’ U.S. Capitol and made Congress flee,” Ochs said in a video with the Capitol visible in the background.
Ochs told CNN that he was working as a “professional journalist” and that he did not have to break into the Capitol, but just “walked in and filmed.” Before his arrest, DeCarlo also told The Los Angeles Times that they were journalists.
“What I did was journalism: Follow the events and show people what happened,” DeCarlo told the newspaper.
Ochs was the Republican Party’s candidate to represent Waikiki in the Hawaii House in the November 2020 election. Ochs lost to Democrat Adrian Tam.
Ochs and DeCarlo are among dozens of members and associates of the Proud Boys who have been charged in the Capitol riot. The group’s former chairman, Enrique Tarrio, and other leaders have been charged with seditious conspiracy — the most serious charges brought so far in the insurrection.
The leader and members of another far-right extremist group, the Oath Keepers, are heading to trial later this month on the charge of seditious conspiracy. The Oath Keepers are the first Jan. 6 defendants facing the rare and difficult-to-prove charge to go to trial.
Also on Friday, a lawyer for the Oath Keepers, Kellye SoRelle, pleaded not guilty to a charge of conspiracy to obstruct the certification of the Electoral College vote. SoRelle, a close associate of Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes, was arrested this month in Texas.
More than 870 people have been charged so far in the Capitol riot. Nearly 400 have pleaded guilty to charges ranging from low-level misdemeanors for illegally entering the building to felony seditious conspiracy.