An Ohio man who assaulted law enforcement officers during the attack on the Capitol on January 6, 2021 and who, according to the Department of Justice, became a “one-man disinformation machine” by spreading lies online about what happened that day , was sentenced 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 victory,” doubling down on his attacks that day, prosecutors said. in court documents.
They emphasized his apparent lack of remorse in his sentencing memorandum, stating that Mr. Thomas “had expressed no remorse for his crimes” and instead “sought fame and notoriety” after being part of the mob on January 6.
Judge Dabney Friedrich of the United States 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 Thomas be sentenced to about nine years in prison, said in court records that it was difficult to overstate his significant spread of falsehoods: He started his own website and his own brand centered on his self-created identity as demonstrator; he produced more than 20 hours per week of content related to January 6; and repeatedly falsely claimed that “Jan. 6 was a trap.”
“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 Thursday evening, and his lawyer, Joseph R. Conte, did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment.
Conte said in a sentencing memorandum that his client, a U.S. Navy veteran, was “brutally aware of the seriousness of his conduct” and that he “continues to take full and complete responsibility for his actions.”
According to the Department of Justice, more than 1,000 people from nearly all 50 states have been arrested in connection with crimes related to the Capitol riot. Some of those people had expressed remorse or shame in court for their actions on the day of the attack. Thomas, however, does not fall into that camp, prosecutors argued.
“Thomas not only attempts to minimize and, in some cases, magnify his conduct on January 6,” prosecutors said, “but he has also disparaged the experience of those he assaulted.”
In court documents, prosecutors said Thomas had told his wife and daughter to stay before entering the Capitol grounds, joined a violent mob that gathered on Upper West Terrace and encouraged the group to “keep calm.” line”.
He harassed police, prosecutors said, shouting, “This is our house” and “Traitors, traitors, traitors.”
Around 3:30 p.m., Mr. Thomas ran up the stairs toward police officers and then “violently punched and/or pushed his fists directly into” an officer’s chest, according to court documents.
Moments later, Mr. Thomas went back up the stairs, “again violently striking and/or pushing his fists” toward a second officer, according to court documents.
He then repeatedly shoved a corporal who was part of the police line, according to the documents, and Mr. Thomas, standing at the front of the crowd, shouted in the officers’ faces: “You have woken up a sleeping giant!”
Law enforcement officials told prosecutors that Mr. Thomas had been “one of the first to come in and start punching.” [and] putting pressure on officers on the line,” the Justice Department said in a news release in June.
Thomas 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.