Ex-Proud Boys Leader Tarrio Found Guilty Of Sedition Plan On January 6

Former Proud Boys leader Enrique Tarrio and three other members of the far-right extremist organization were convicted Thursday of plotting an attack on the United States Capitol in a desperate attempt to keep Donald Trump in power after he loses the 2020 presidential election.

A jury in Washington, D.C., found Tarrio guilty of seditious conspiracy after hearing from dozens of witnesses over more than three months in one of the most serious cases brought in the stunning attack that unfolded on Jan. 6, 2021, as the world watched on live TV.

Tarrio was also convicted of obstructing Congress’ certification of President Joe Biden’s electoral victory and obstructing law enforcement as well as two other conspiracy charges. He was cleared of an assault charge stemming from a co-defendant who stole an officer’s riot shield.

It’s a significant milestone for the Justice Department, which has now secured seditious conspiracy convictions against the leaders of two major extremist groups prosecutors say were intent on keeping Biden out of the White House at all costs. The charge carries a prison sentence of up to 20 years.

Tarrio, who has been imprisoned since his arrest in March 2022, did not appear to be moved as the verdict was read aloud. Before leaving the courtroom, he hugged one of his lawyers and shook the other’s hand. As the verdict was read, a few of the people sitting among the defendants’ relatives wiped away their tears.

An attorney for Tarrio declined to comment Thursday.

Tarrio was a top target of what has become the largest Justice Department investigation in American history. He led the neo-fascist group — known for street fights with left-wing activists — when Trump infamously told the Proud Boys to “stand back and stand by” during his first debate with Biden.

Tarrio was not in Washington on January 6 because he had been arrested and ordered out of the city two days earlier in a separate matter. Prosecutors, however, claim he plotted and directed the attack by Proud Boys on the Capitol that day.

Tarrio, a Miami resident, was one of three Proud Boys convicted of seditious conspiracy: Ethan Nordean, Joseph Biggs, and Zachary Rehl.

Ex-Proud Boys Leader Tarrio

Jurors have failed to reach a unanimous decision on the sedition accusation against the fifth defendant, Dominic Pezzola. The court instructed them to continue deliberating.

Nordean, of Auburn, Washington, was a Proud Boys chapter leader. Rehl led a group chapter in Philadelphia. Biggs was a self-described Proud Boys organizer of Ormond Beach, Florida. Pezzola was a group member from Rochester, New York.

Prosecutors told jurors the group viewed itself as “Trump’s army” and was prepared for “all-out war” to stop Biden from becoming president.

The Proud Boys were “lined up behind Donald Trump and willing to commit violence on his behalf,” prosecutor Conor Mulroe said in his closing argument.

Hundreds of texts sent by Proud Boys in the days preceding up to Jan. 6 show the far-right extremist group peddling Trump’s phony claims of a stolen election and swapping worries about what would happen if Biden won office.

As Proud Boys swarmed the Capitol, Tarrio cheered them on from afar, writing on social media: “Do what must be done.” Someone asked what they should do next in a Proud Boys encrypted group chat. Tarrio responded: “Do it again.”

“Make no mistake,” Tarrio wrote in another message. “We did this.”

Defense lawyers denied any plot to attack the Capitol or stop Congress’ certification of Biden’s win. A lawyer for Tarrio sought to push the blame onto Trump, arguing the former president incited the pro-Trump mob’s attack when he urged the crowd near the White House to “fight like hell.”

“It was Donald Trump’s words. It was his motivation. It was his anger that caused what occurred on January 6th in your beautiful and amazing city,” attorney Nayib Hassan said in his final appeal to jurors. “It was not Enrique Tarrio. They want to use Enrique Tarrio as a scapegoat for Donald J. Trump and those in power.”

The Justice Department hadn’t tried a seditious conspiracy case in a decade before a jury convicted another extremist group leader, Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes, of the Civil War-era charge last year.

Over the course of two Oath Keepers trials, Rhodes and five other members were convicted of seditious conspiracy for what prosecutors said was a separate plot to forcibly halt the transfer of presidential power from Trump to Biden. Three defendants were acquitted of the sedition charge, but convicted of obstructing Congress’ certification of Biden’s electoral victory.

The Justice Department has yet to disclose how much prison time it will seek when the Oath Keepers are sentenced next month.

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