WASHINGTON — A Texas man who traveled to D.C. on Jan. 6 and posted threats toward Congress on the right-wing social media site Parler was sentenced Thursday to 14 months in prison – the largest sentence handed down so far in connection with the Jan. 6 assault on the U.S. Capitol.
Troy Anthony Smocks, 58, of Dallas, appeared before U.S. District Judge Tanya S. Chutkan for sentencing on one felony count of transmitting threats in interstate commerce. Smocks was arrested in January and pleaded guilty last month.
In charging documents, federal prosecutors say Smocks traveled to D.C. on January 6 and then posted repeated threats on his Parler account over the next two days, including one post in which he wrote, “Many of us will return on January 19th, 2021, carrying our weapons in support of Our nation’s resolve, to which the world will never forget. We will come in numbers that no standing army or police agency can match.”
In another post, Smocks encouraged Parler users to “get our personal affairs in order” and then prepare their weapons.
“Let’s hunt these cowards down like the Traitors that each of them are,” Smocks wrote.
Despite his presence in D.C. on January 6, Smocks’ attorney, John Machado, has claimed he did not enter the Capitol grounds, and the Department of Justice did not charge him with any offenses related to the Capitol riot.
Smocks was arrested on January 15 – the same day, the DOJ says, he booked a flight to depart the U.S. for a foreign country.
According to a sentencing memo filed by the Department of Justice, Smocks has a lengthy criminal history, including 18 prior criminal convictions “spanning from the early 1980s to 2006.” Prior offenses include the production of fraudulent identification documents, bank fraud, forgery, stealing and multiple instances of falsely impersonating a federal agent. He completed his last term of supervised release in 2019.
Chutkan decided Thursday not to factor in a 2003 conviction for forgery into his sentencing, which would have increased his recommended sentencing guidelines from 8-14 months to 10-16 months.
Before hearing his sentence, Smocks, who is Black, suggested he was being unfairly treated because of his race. He pointed to another Capitol riot defendant, Dawn Bancroft – who is white – who was allowed to plead to a misdemeanor despite entering the U.S. Capitol and recording a threat against Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi.
“Your honor, this is racism,” Smocks said, adding that he shared Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “idea of justice.”
Chutkan, who is also Black and who was appointed to the federal bench in 2013 by President Barack Obama, was not impressed by that argument.
“Coming into this courtroom and trying to make yourself out to be a victim of racism… I find that offensive,” she said. “There are people who died for civil rights. For you to hold yourself up somehow as a soldier in that fight is really quite audacious.”
Chutkan said she viewed Smocks’ extensive criminal history as evidence of his “inability to live a law-abiding life,” and also noted he had the “audacity” to call the rioters who assaulted the Capitol “patriots,” and the officers who tried to stop them “cowards,” while himself staying in the safety of his hotel room. She also said she heard no evidence Smocks had truly accepted responsibility for his actions.
“I listened to every word Mr. Smocks said, and nowhere did I hear a single word of remorse,” Chutkan said. “Not a single word of acknowledgment of the enormity and seriousness of what he did.”
Chutkan sentenced Smocks to 14 months in prison, to be followed by three years of supervised release. Smocks will receive credit for the nine months he has already served in the D.C. Jail while awaiting trial.
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