By SDCN Editor
Washington, D.C.–A jury in the District of Columbia Thursday returned guilty verdicts on multiple felonies against five members of the Proud Boys, finding four of the defendants guilty of seditious conspiracy for their actions before and during the breach of the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.
According to the evidence at trial, in the months leading up to Jan. 6, the defendants plotted to oppose by force the lawful transfer of presidential power and to prevent the Members of Congress, and the federal law enforcement officers who protect them, from discharging their duties.
Henry “Enrique” Tarrio, 39, of Miami, the former national chairman of the Proud Boys; Ethan Nordean, 32, of Auburn, Washington; Joseph Biggs, 39, of Ormond Beach, Florida; Zachary Rehl, 37, of Philadelphia, were found guilty of seditious conspiracy and conspiracy to obstruct an official proceeding. The four defendants and co-defendant Dominic Pezzola, 45, of Rochester, New York, were also found guilty of obstruction of an official proceeding, conspiracy to prevent Members of Congress and federal law enforcement officers from discharging their duties, civil disorder, and destruction of government property. Pezzola was also found guilty of assaulting, resisting, or impeding certain officers and robbery involving government property.
“Today, the Justice Department secured the conviction of four leaders of the Proud Boys for seditious conspiracy related to the January 6th attack on the Capitol,” said Attorney General Merrick Garland. “In addition, those defendants and a fifth member of the Proud Boys were all convicted of felonies including obstructing Congress’s certification of the 2020 presidential election results and conspiring to prevent Congress and federal officers from discharging their duties.
Garland added that evidence presented at the trial detailed the extent of the violence at the Capitol on January 6 and the central role the leaders played in setting into motion the events of that day.
The Justice Department secured more than 600 convictions for a wide range of criminal conduct on January 6, as well as in the days and weeks leading up to the attack.
“This case is a crucial step to hold criminally accountable those who attempted to undermine the peaceful transfer of power on January 6, 2021,” said FBI Director Christopher Wray. “The FBI will uphold the rights of all Americans to participate in peaceful First Amendment-protected activities, but we are just as committed to holding criminally responsible those who engage in violence to undermine the workings of our democracy.”
“The defendants threatened the bedrock of our democracy: the peaceful transfer of power,” said Assistant Attorney General Kenneth Polite, Jr. of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division. “Today’s verdict demonstrates the Department’s commitment to protecting our institutions of government and holding those who seek to attack them accountable.”
According to the evidence, the Proud Boys describe themselves as members of a “pro-Western fraternal organization for men who refuse to apologize for creating the modern world, aka Western Chauvinists.” Through at least Jan. 6, 2021, Tarrio was the national chairman of the organization. In September 2020, former President Donald J. Trump told the Proud Boys during a nationally televised debate to “stand back and stand by.” Thereafter, membership in the group increased dramatically. Proud Boys played a significant and often violent role in Washington, D.C. rallies in November and December 2020. During a rally in Washington, D.C. on Dec. 12, 2020, Tarrio set a stolen Black Lives Matter banner on fire. During that same rally, cooperating defendant Jeremy Bertino, who has also pleaded guilty to seditious conspiracy, was stabbed.
In the aftermath, Tarrio created a special chapter of the Proud Boys known as the “Ministry of Self-Defense.” Beginning after Dec. 19, 2020, Tarrio and his co-defendants, all of whom were leaders or members of the Ministry of Self-Defense, conspired to prevent, hinder and delay the certification of the Electoral College vote, and to oppose by force the authority of the government of the United States. On Jan. 6, 2021, the defendants directed, mobilized, and led a group of Proud Boys and other members of the crowd onto the Capitol grounds, leading to the dismantling of metal barricades, destruction of property, breaching of the Capitol building, and assaults on law enforcement. During and after the attack, Tarrio and his co-defendants claimed credit for what had happened on social media and in an encrypted chat room.
A sixth defendant, Charles Donohoe, 34, of Kernersville, North Carolina, pleaded guilty on April 8, 2022, to conspiracy to obstruct an official proceeding and assaulting, resisting, or impeding officers.