Two men associated with the Proud Boys -- who gained infamy for the “Murder the Media” sign they posed with on January 6 at the U.S. Capitol -- have accepted plea deals calling for them to serve a fraction of the 20-year maximum sentences their crimes carried.
Nicholas Ochs, 36, founder of the Hawaii chapter of the Proud Boys and Nicholas DeCarlo, 32 of Fort Worth, Texas pleaded guilty to a felony count of obstruction of an official proceeding, the Department of Justice reported. The federal sentencing guidelines referenced in their plea deals both prescribe a range of 41-to-51 months in prison, plus possible fines. Such deals are subject to the approval of a U.S. District Court Judge.
But the two men are examples of criminals who should their lucky stars that the sheer volume of MAGA rioters precludes taking most of the cases to trial. Ochs and DeCarlo not only were captured on video throwing smoke bombs at Capitol police and stealing plastic handcuffs from a police duffel bag, but they posed in front of a sign DeCarlo had scrawled in permanent marker on a door to the Capitol proclaiming, “Murder the Media.”
Prosecutors said “Murder the Media” was also the name of a social-media channel the men operated, and DeCarlo was sporting a shirt with that slogan at the riot. DeCarlo claimed falsely to the Los Angeles Times that he and Ochs were in the U.S. Capitol as members of the press, according to FBI arrest documents.
Ochs reported to social-media followers in the aftermath of the riot, according to the FBI:
Ochs states, “Viewers, . . . we have some good news: . . . We have just, uh, peeked through this window, and on the television the headline reads that Congress stopped the vote when we stormed the Capitol. And, as we’ve been saying all day, we came here to stop the steal,” to which DeCarlo interjects “we did it.” Ochs continues, “we were being sarcastic, but we didn’t know we were actually going to . . . .” DeCarlo then asks, “Wait, you were being sarcastic?” Ochs replies, “I was being a bit facetious,” to which DeCarlo replies, “Oh no, that’s what I came down here to do. We fucking did it.” Ochs then says words to the effect of, “It may resume, but the steal is for now stopped. You’re welcome, America!” to which DeCarlo replies “we did our job. We did our job.”
It’s not clear how a jury would have reacted to that narrative, or the pair’s consistent messaging of “Murder the Media.” But coupled with the evidence of assaulting police and stealing equipment from them – and Ochs’ status as the founder of a state Proud Boys chapter – one or both men faced considerable risk had they gone to trial.
The DOJ is obviously preoccupied with larger matters pertaining to the insurrection – and the alleged crimes of Donald Trump – and the 41-to-51-month sentences likely faced are by no means among the lightest meted out in connection with the Capitol riot.
But for Ochs and DeCarlo, it could have – and arguably should have -- turned out worse.