Monday, February 26, 2024

An Ohio man who assaulted law enforcement officers during the attack on the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, and who the Justice Department said became a “one-man misinformation machine” as he spread lies online about what occurred that day, was sentenced on Thursday to four years and 10 months in prison.

The man, Kenneth Joseph Owen Thomas, 41, of East Liverpool, Ohio, had said online that his conviction in June on four counts related to his assaults on officers was a “huge win,” doubling down on his attacks that day, prosecutors said in court documents.

They emphasized his apparent lack of regret in their sentencing memo, stating that Mr. Thomas had “expressed no remorse for his crimes,” and instead “sought fame and notoriety” after being part of the mob on Jan. 6.

Judge Dabney Friedrich of U.S. District Court in Washington also ordered Mr. Thomas to pay a $20,000 fine and $2,000 in restitution.

Federal prosecutors, who had asked that Mr. Thomas be sentenced to about nine years in prison, said in court records that his significant spread of falsehoods was hard to overstate: He started his own webpage and brand centered around his self-created identity as a rioter; he produced more than 20 hours of Jan. 6-related content each week; and he repeatedly falsely claimed that “Jan. 6 was a setup.”

“The only reliable method of protecting the community from Thomas in the future is to remove him from the community for a significant period of time,” prosecutors said.

Mr. Thomas could not be reached for comment on Thursday evening, and his lawyer, Joseph R. Conte, did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment.

Mr. Conte said in a sentencing memo that his client, a veteran of the U.S. Navy, was “brutally aware of the seriousness of his conduct” and that he “continues to take full and complete responsibility for his actions.”

More than 1,000 people from nearly all 50 states have been arrested in connection with crimes related to the Capitol riot, according to the Justice Department. Some of those people had expressed remorse or shame in court for their actions on the day of the attack. Mr. Thomas, however, does not fall in that camp, prosecutors argued.

“Not only does Thomas attempt to minimize and, in some cases, aggrandize, his conduct on Jan. 6,” prosecutors said, “he has belittled the experience of those he assaulted.”

In court documents, prosecutors said that Mr. Thomas had told his wife and daughter to stay behind before he entered the Capitol grounds, joined a violent mob that gathered on the Upper West Terrace and encouraged the group to “hold the line.”

He harassed the police, prosecutors said, shouting, “This is our house,” and “Traitors, traitors, traitors.”

Around 3:30 p.m., Mr. Thomas ran up the steps toward police officers and then “punched and/or violently pushed his fists directly into” an officer’s chest, according to court documents.

Moments later, Mr. Thomas again charged up the steps, “again punching and/or violently pushing his fists” into a second officer, court documents state.

He then repeatedly pushed into a corporal who was part of the police line, the documents state, and Mr. Thomas, standing at the front of the mob, yelled in the faces of the officers: “You have woken a sleeping giant!”

Law enforcement officers told prosecutors that Mr. Thomas had been “one of the first to come in and start hitting [and] pushing officers on the line,” the Justice Department said in a news release in June.

Mr. Thomas has profited from his actions that day after appearing on podcasts and webcasts to discuss his case and charges, prosecutors said, adding that he had received more than $77,000 in donations.

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