WASHINGTON — A former U.S. Army private whose obsession with the QAnon conspiracy theory led him to D.C. on January 6 will serve more than three years in prison for assaulting police.
Nicholas Languerand, of Little River, South Carolina, was sentenced Wednesday to 44 months in prison by U.S. District Judge John Bates. Languerand pleaded guilty in November to assaulting police with a dangerous weapon for throwing sticks, a pepper spray canister and a large speaker at officers attempting to defend the U.S. Capitol Building.
Languerand’s attorney, William Welch, painted a picture of his client as a man who’d suffered a tumultuous and abusive childhood. Languerand’s father served six months in prison for blowing up their trailer in an attempt to kill his mother. Languerand later lived with him for a time in a ramshackle home he’d built out of downed telephone poles.
Languerand’s path shared many parallels with another Capitol riot defendant: “QAnon Shaman” Jacob Chansley. Like Chansley, Languerand served in the U.S. Military – Chansley in the Navy, and Languerand as a private in the Army. Languerand was administratively discharged following a positive test for cocaine. Prior to the Capitol riot, Languerand had been laid off from work and had become isolated and “consumed” by the QAnon conspiracy theory, his grandmother told Bates. Languerand said he had even watched some of Chansley’s videos.
“I knew QAnon was pretty far out there,” Languerand’s grandfather said in court Wednesday, “but I didn’t try to heartily dissuade him from listening to them because he was getting engaged in citizenship.”
Languerand’s grandparents told Bates their plan was to pick him up after the rally in D.C. on January 6 and bring him home to South Carolina where, they hoped, they could get him back on the right path. Instead, when Languerand arrived, he told them the FBI might come looking for him.
Agents eventually did visit in April. In Languerand’s room they found a stockpile of weapons and notes on his cellphone, including one reading, “Dear FBI, if you play nice, so will I. If you shoot my dog, we all will die.”
Investigators also searched the trailer in Vermont where Languerand had been staying. There they found a makeshift target with the rough outline of a human riddled with bullet holes and a notebook with a “target list.”
Assistant U.S. attorney Robert Juman told Bates the evidence showed Languerand was a danger to society, had a “history of violent and threatening conduct” and deserved a 51-month sentence. He acknowledged his troubled youth, but said
“There are many people who have difficult childhoods and who don’t go on to assault police and then brag about it,” Juman says.
In posts on social media after the riot, Languerand wrote that he “got some good shots in” and suggested he return to D.C. with rifles.
“Defendant was not caught up in violence,” Juman said. “He sought it out.”
Before Bates handed down his sentence, Languerand offered a short statement saying he was deeply remorseful.
“I have represented my community in an extremely poor way,” he told the judge.
The statement equivocated less than a letter Languerand submitted to the court, which, Bates said, contained a “mix of excuses and remorse.” In the letter, Languerand blamed the proponents of former President Donald Trump’s election fraud lies for his presence at the Capitol – in particular retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn.
“It’s not the complete commitment, disavowal and acceptance of personal responsibility that one might hope to see,” Bates said.
Bates ultimately gave Languerand credit for the circumstances of his upbringing and sentenced him to 44 months in prison – two months below the lower end of the sentencing guideline. The sentence is one of the longest handed down yet in a Capitol riot case. Two other assault defendants, Devlyn Thompson and Robert Scott Palmer, were sentenced to 46 and 63 months, respectively. Chansley, who pleaded guilty to obstruction of an official proceeding, was sentenced in November to 41 months in prison.
Languerand’s attorney asked Bates to recommend the Bureau of Prisons place him in a facility near his grandparents and placement in BOP’s Residential Drug Abuse Program (RDAP).
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