Washington — Former Proud Boys leader Enrique Tarrio will be sentenced Wednesday for numerous felony counts tied to the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol assault including seditious conspiracy.
Tarrio and three subordinates — Joseph Biggs, Ethan Nordean and Zachary Rehl — werein May of seditious conspiracy, the most serious charge brought in the Justice Department’s sprawling probe of the breach. A jury in Washington, D.C., found another co-defendant, Dominic Pezzola, not guilty of that most severe charge, but convicted him on other counts.
Prosecutors have asked federal Judge Timothy Kelly to— the longest sentencing request so far — and alleged they “and the men they recruited and led participated in every consequential breach at the Capitol on January 6.”
In court filings earlier this month, the Justice Department alleged Tarrio and his co-defendants worked to bring about a “revolution” and should be punished accordingly.
“The defendants personally deployed force against the government on January 6,” prosecutors wrote, urging Kelly to apply an enhanced sentence, based on allegations that the Proud Boys engaged in conduct related to terrorism — that is, they were found guilty of retaliating against their government.
Although Tarrio wasn’t at the Capitol on Jan. 6, prosecutors in their sentencing papers called him the “primary organizer” of the conspiracy and said he used his outsized influence “to condone and promote violence” in others. “He was a general rather than a soldier.”
But Tarrio’s attorneys pushed back in a sentencing filing of their own, calling the Justice Department’s terrorism recommendation “arbitrary” and unnecessary.
“Participating in a plan for the Proud Boys to protest on January 6 is not the same as directing others on the ground to storm the Capitol by any means necessary. In fact, Tarrio was not in contact with anyone during the event he is alleged to have led or organized,” the defense attorneys argued.
During a months-long hearing earlier this year, prosecutors presented evidence that soon after the election, Tarrio began posting on social media and in message groups about a “civil war,” later threatening, “No Trump…No peace. No Quarter.”
“Let’s bring this new year in with one word in mind: revolt,” he wrote on Jan. 6, 2021, according to the government’s evidence.
Nordean, Rehl, Biggs and Pezzola gathered with over 100 Proud Boys near the Washington Monument on Jan. 6, 2021, around the time that President Donald Trump was speaking at the White House Ellipse, and the government contends they then marched to the Capitol, where they were accused of participating in and encouraging the violence.
“Make no mistake, we did this,” Tarrio wrote on social media during the riot.
“Did Enrique Tarrio make comments that were egregious? Absolutely,” Tarrio’s defense attorney asked the jury in closing arguments. “You may not like what he said, but it is First Amendment-protected speech.”
But the jurors were unconvinced and convicted Tarrio of seditious conspiracy and other crimes.
Tarrio and his co-defendants are not the first Jan. 6 defendants to be sentenced for seditious conspiracy. Stewart Rhodes, the founder of the far-right group known as the Oath Keepers, wasin prison after a jury found him guilty of the crime. The sentence was lower than the 25 years recommended by prosecutors.
The Justice Department has said it, and many Oath Keepers defendants, including Rhodes, are appealing their convictions.
Tarrio’s co-defendants will also be sentenced this week.