A federal judge on Thursday sentenced a Texas man who threatened lawmakers and tech executives online on January 6 to 14 months in prison, the toughest sentence yet for a US Capitol riot-related defendant.
Troy Anthony Smocks, who was in Washington on the day of the attack but did not go to the Capitol, pleaded guilty in September to transmitting interstate threats and will get credit for the nine months he spent in jail since his arrest in January.
“Mr. Smocks, from the safety of his hotel room, had the nerve to call people trying to defend the Capitol that day ‘cowards,’” said District Judge Tanya Chutkan. “He had the audacity to call the rioters ‘patriots.’ ”
According to his plea agreement, Smocks, under the alias “ColonelTPerez,” posted on right-wing social media platform Parler and encouraged people to follow the call of former President Donald Trump, his son Eric Trump and Republican Rep. Mo Brooks of Alabama, and to take up arms as “American patriots” after the Capitol building was secured on the evening of January 6. The former President, Eric Trump and Brooks all spoke at the “Stop the Steal” rally that served as a prelude to the riot.
“Prepare our weapons, and then go get ‘em,” Smocks allegedly posted on January 7. “Lets hunt these cowards down like the Traitors that each of them are. This includes RINOS,1 Dems, and Tech Execs. We now have the green light. [All] who resist US are enemies of Our Constitution, and must be treated as such. 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!”
Smocks has a long criminal history, and has posed as a government or military official on numerous occasions, which Chutkan said weighed heavily in her decision.
In one instance, prosecutors said Smocks donned a full military dress uniform “complete with medals he did not earn” for a wedding, though he had not served in the military. At other times, he wore a US Drug Enforcement Administration shirt and carried handcuffs to the scene of a search, told a woman that law enforcement was looking for her while he posed as a Secret Service agent, and told police he was in the FBI, federal prosecutors said in court filings.
In an impassioned speech during his sentencing hearing on Thursday, Smocks, who is Black, said that he believed he was being treated harsher than White Capitol riot defendants, citing a case in which a Pennsylvania woman who posted that she was looking for Nancy Pelosi “to shoot her in the friggin’ brain” was allowed to plead to a low-level misdemeanor.
“Your honor, this is racism. This is why there are far more black and brown men in jail than whites for the same crime,” Smocks said. “I’m no Dr. King, not by a long shot, but we do share the same skin color and the same idea of justice.”
But Chutkan, who also is Black, vehemently rejected Smocks’ allegations of racism.
“Mr. Smocks now seeks to somehow compare himself and drape himself in the mantle of civil rights. I, for one, find that offensive,” Chutkan said.
“People died fighting for civil rights,” she added. “People were beaten, they were tortured mentally and physically. For you to hold yourself up as somehow a soldier in that fight is audacious.”
So far, 19 Capitol rioters have been sentenced, mostly to federal misdemeanors. Eleven have received jail time.