Proud Boys leader Tarrio, 4 lieutenants charged with seditious conspiracy

A federal grand jury in the District of Columbia returned a superseding indictment charging five members of the right-wing extremist group called the Proud Boys, including the group’s former national chairman, with seditious conspiracy and other charges for their actions before and during the breach of the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.

The charges expand the Justice Department’s allegations of organized plotting to oppose through violence the certification of President Joe Biden’s election victory, culminating in the attack on the Capitol by a mob of Trump-loving terrorists on Jan. 6, 2021.

Their attempted coup d’etat disrupted a joint session of the U.S. Congress convened to ascertain and count the electoral votes related to the presidential election.

The defendants include Henry “Enrique” Tarrio, 38, of Miami, Florida, the former national chairman of the Proud Boys; Ethan Nordean, 31, of Auburn, Washington; Joseph Biggs, 38, of Ormond Beach, Florida; Zachary Rehl, 37, of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; and Dominic Pezzola, 44, of Rochester, New York.

All five defendants were previously indicted and they remain in detention although they all pleaded not guilty to charges contained in earlier indictments.

The superseding indictment adds two charges to the earlier indictment: one count of conspiracy to prevent an officer from discharging any duties and one count of seditious conspiracy,

All defendants now face a total of nine charges and Pezzola faces an additional robbery charge. The defendants are scheduled to appear for a hearing on June 9, 2022, in the District of Columbia

According to court documents, 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 mid-December of 2020, Tarrio created a special chapter of the Proud Boys known as the “Ministry of Self Defense.”

As alleged in the indictment, from in or around December 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 members of the crowd onto the Capitol grounds and into the Capitol, leading to 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, who was earlier charged with the group, pleaded guilty on April 8, 2022. Charles Donohoe, 34, of Kernersville, North Carolina, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to obstruct an official proceeding and assaulting, resisting, or impeding officers.

This case is being prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia, the Department of Justice National Security Division’s Counterterrorism Section and the Department of Justice Criminal Division’s Organized Crime and Gang Section.

The case is being investigated by the FBI’s Washington Field Office. The charges in the investigation are the result of significant cooperation between agents and staff across numerous FBI Field Offices and law enforcement agencies.

Federal prosecutors previously leveled the historically rare charge of seditious conspiracy for the first time in the Jan. 6 attack against Stewart Rhodes, the founder and leader of the extremist group Oath Keepers, and 10 associates.

Since filing the charges in January, a year after the violence, two of the other defendants, Joshua James of Alabama and Brian Ulrich of Georgia, and one other Oath Keeper member, William Todd Wilson of North Carolina, have pleaded guilty to the charge and are cooperating with the Justice Department.

In the 17 months since Jan. 6, 2021, more than 800 individuals have been arrested for crimes related to the breach of the U.S. Capitol, including over 250 individuals charged with assaulting or impeding law enforcement.

Considering the number of terrorists involved with the rioting, indications that the coup plotters included President Donald Trump and some of his top advisors, and active measures underway to try again in 2024, shockingly few traitors have been charged with such serious offenses as seditious conspiracy or treason.

The investigation remains ongoing. Anyone with tips can call 1-800-CALL-FBI (800-225-5324) or visit tips.fbi.gov.

Tarrio, 38, was not in the District that day but allegedly guided activities from nearby Baltimore as Proud Boys members engaged in the earliest and most aggressive attacks to confront and overwhelm police at several critical points on restricted Capitol grounds. Another defendant, Dominic Pezzola of Rochester, N.Y., broke through the first window of the building at 2:13 p.m. with a stolen police riot shield, authorities said.

A 10-count superseding indictment returned Monday morning charges Tarrio, Pezzola and three other existing defendants — Ethan Nordean of Washington state, Joe Biggs of Florida and Zachary Rehl of Pennsylvania — with “opposing the lawful transfer of presidential power by force,” eventually mustering and coordinating the movements of as many as 300 people around the Capitol that day. The defendants are accused of fomenting and spearheading a riot that stormed the Capitol, eventually forcing the evacuation of Congress as it met to confirm the 2020 election results.

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