Capitol rioter gets four years in jail -- but government blew opportunity to nail him on stronger conspiracy charge
Courtesy US Department of Justice

Texas militia leader Lucas Denney will serve 52 months in prison for assaulting a Metropolitan DC police officer with a dangerous weapon during the Jan. 6 attack on the US Capitol, WUSA 9's Jordan Fischer is reporting.

Judge Randolph Moss agreed with the government request for a sentencing enhancement due to Denney’s use of a dangerous weapon, based on Denney using a long PVC pipe to strike an officer who was deploying crowd-control spray on the west side of the Capitol building.

As president of the Patriot Boys, a militia based in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, Denney was initially charged alongside Donald Hazard, the group’s sergeant at arms, with conspiracy to obstruct an official proceeding. But the government missed the deadline to obtain an indictment for conspiracy and other charges, and then hastily indicted him on the lone assault count earlier this year. Denney then pled guilty to the assault charge before the government could bring additional charges.

Despite Denney’s conviction as a standalone defendant on a single charge, his case highlights significant coordination in the weeks leading up to Jan. 6.

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As the government noted in a sentencing memorandum filed on September 21, Denney “undertook a significant level of planning and preparation for January 6, 2021, including fundraising, recruiting others to take up arms with him, and procuring weapons and protective gear for himself and others. And he engaged in repeated instances of assaultive conduct, in several locations on Capitol grounds, over the course of more than an hour and a half.”

Judge Moss took his involvement in planning the attack under consideration in Denney’s sentencing, WUSA 9 reporter Jordan Fischer reported.

A statement of offense filed by the government last month captures the militaristic posture taken by Denney, an Army veteran and former law enforcement employee, after the 2020 election.

“For me, it was really only a matter of time before I dusted off my boots,” wrote Denney, signing off as the “president of DFWPB chapter.” “I’ve hunted the most evil men the world has ever seen and they don’t scare me. I loved it. The time is coming to choose a side. And they’re 3 sides to choose from The right side, the wrong side and the side where you’re aren’t doing s*** but sitting on the sidelines watching. DFW Proud Boys are now recruiting. We also have a few guys that are doing martial arts training, weapons training, and field training. We are very active in countering ANTIFA, BLM and any other communist radical groups that decide to pop up. We also hold pro America rally’s, pro Trump rally’s and back the blue rally’s. We show the communist that Patriots are here and are not hiding. PM me any questions you have about membership.”

Denney developed extensive ties with the Proud Boys, the neo-fascist street-fighting group whose leadership faces charges of seditious conspiracy. On Dec. 3, 2020, according to the statement of offense, Denney told another individual on Facebook that he planned to go to Washington, DC “because I have to meet with the PB chairman,” apparently referring to one-time Proud Boys national chairman Enrique Tarrio. Denney didn’t ultimately make it to DC for a Dec. 12 pro-Trump rally, because he got stuck in traffic in Dallas, according to court documents, but he continued to mention ties to the Proud Boys.

On Christmas day, Denney told Hazard in a Facebook message: “So the 6th is going to be bigger than the last rally. I can’t tell you everything I know over media here but it’s gonna be big. Millions and millions will be there I can tell you that.

“We will need linking up with proud boys though,” he added. “I’ve been in contact with a few different chapters and they’re helping us out with safe hotels to get.”

Three days later, Denney confirmed to Hazard that he had booked a hotel for them, adding, “It’s the same place everyone else is getting in the Proud Boys crew and the other militias until it gets full.”

While planning for the trip and recruiting others, Denney raised money to cover the costs of travel and tactical gear.

“Hey DC is definitely on,” Denney reported to Hazard on Dec. 26, according to court documents. “We are going for sure. Have plenty of money now. I just got a 1 thousand dollar donation from just one person for the trip. I have more donations coming in to.”

Although the statement of offense makes extensive references to Denney’s remarks about working with the Proud Boys, the government’s failure to obtain an indictment for conspiracy represents a missed opportunity to explore evidence of coordination among the militant groups and potential direction from someone higher up the chain of command. For example, the identity of the person who made a $1,000 donation to the Patriot Boys has not come to light to date.

The evidence presented in the statement of offense shows Denney was attuned to the larger picture surrounding Trump’s efforts to overturn the election, although it does not disclose the source of the information. As Trump allies were pressuring Vice President Mike Pence to set aside electoral votes from states narrowly won by Joe Biden, Denney articulated a role for the militants on the ground at the Capitol in a Dec. 29 Facebook message to an undisclosed recipient.

“Trump is calling this rally himself,” said Denney. “It’s the day that Congress is going to try and certify the electoral college. But pence can deny the ones coming from the states where fraud took place. So we are thinking Trump wants us there to keep the area from being burned down by ANTIFA thugs when they get mad.” In another message the following day, Denney said, “There’s so much going on behind the scenes though.”

By Jan. 2, Denney appears to have learned that Pence was not inclined to interfere with the electoral certification, although he would not issue an official statement about his intentions until Jan. 6.

“I’m hearing some bad stuff today about Pence,” Denney reportedly commented on a Facebook post. “First everyone thought he was going to be a hero and now I’m hearing he’s stabbing Trump in the back through backdoor deals. The 6th in DC is going to be interesting.”

The statement of offense also includes graphics Denney allegedly posted on Facebook on Dec. 30 that include the hashtag #OcccupyCongress. One reads, “If they won’t hear us, they will fear us. The great betrayal is over. Election fraud is treason.”

Reflecting coordination with other militant groups, Denney reportedly sent a Facebook message on Dec. 31 declaring, “It’s 209am. I’m still up chatting with all my brothers that going to DC. All the Presidents have been so busy organizing, planning and talking lol.”

In another message to an undisclosed recipient on Facebook, Denney wrote, “I’m in other chat groups and one for the president’s of other groups and there are certain plans being made right now. It’s gonna be historic is all I can say. And we will be taking back the country on the 6th up there.”

In the early morning hours of Jan. 6, after “fighting” with left-wing counter-protesters, Denney reported to one of his Facebook contacts: “We made it back to the hotel safe and ready for tomorrow. Trump speaking to us around 11am and then we march to the capitol and after that we have special plans that I can’t say right now over Facebook. But keep an eye out for live feeds tomorrow from me. Tomorrow will be historic.”