Former Proud Boys leader sentenced to 22 years for seditious conspiracy

Former Proud Boys national chairman Enrique Tarrio was sentenced to 22 years in prison on Tuesday for his role in the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, which aimed to stop the certification of President Joe Biden’s election victory. Tarrio’s sentence is the longest among more than 1,100 Capitol riot cases, surpassing the 18-year sentences that Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes and former Proud Boys leader Ethan Nordean received after being convicted of the same charge.

Tarrio apologized for the ‘national embarrassment’ of Jan. 6

Tarrio, 39, of Miami, was not present at the Capitol on Jan. 6, but he had organized and directed Proud Boys members who were among the first to breach the historic building and who temporarily prevented Congress from counting Electoral College votes. He was arrested two days before the riot for burning a Black Lives Matter banner stolen from a church and possessing high-capacity firearm magazines.

Former Proud Boys leader sentenced to 22 years for seditious conspiracy
Former Proud Boys leader sentenced to 22 years for seditious conspiracy

Before his sentencing, Tarrio pleaded for leniency and expressed remorse for his actions, calling Jan. 6 a “national embarrassment” and apologizing to the police officers who defended the Capitol and the lawmakers who fled in fear. He also said he was done with politics and asked the judge not to take his 40s away from him.

“I am not a political zealot. Inflicting harm or changing the results of the election was not my goal,” Tarrio said.

Prosecutors sought 33 years for Tarrio’s ‘calculated act of terrorism’

Prosecutors had sought 33 years in prison for Tarrio, describing him as the ringleader of a plot to use violence to shatter the cornerstone of American democracy and overturn the election results. They argued that Tarrio’s actions qualified as “terrorism” for trying to influence the government through intimidation or coercion, and that he deserved a harsher punishment than his co-defendants.

“We need to make sure the consequences are abundantly clear to anyone who might be unhappy with the results of 2024, 2028, 2032 or any future election for as long as this case is remembered,” prosecutor Conor Mulroe said. “This was a calculated act of terrorism.”

Judge agreed with prosecutors but gave Tarrio a lower sentence

U.S. District Judge Timothy Kelly, who was appointed by former President Donald Trump, agreed with prosecutors that Tarrio’s actions could be punished more severely as “terrorism,” but not at the level of trying to blow up buildings. He said he considered Tarrio’s lack of criminal history, his acceptance of responsibility, and his cooperation with authorities in reducing his sentence.

However, Kelly also said that Tarrio’s conduct was “extremely serious” and that he played a “central role” in planning and executing the attack on the Capitol. He said Tarrio showed a “complete disregard” for the rule of law and the democratic process, and that he posed a “significant danger” to the community.

Kelly also ordered Tarrio to pay $2.3 million in restitution for the damage caused by the rioters, along with his co-conspirators.

Tarrio is one of five Proud Boys members sentenced in the last week

Tarrio is one of five Proud Boys members sentenced in the last week for their roles in the Jan. 6 attack, after their convictions at trial in April. His co-defendants Ethan Nordean of Auburn, Washington; Joseph Biggs of Ormond Beach, Florida; Zachary Rehl of Philadelphia; and Dominic Pezzola of Rochester, New York; were also convicted of seditious conspiracy and other charges.

Pezzola, a Marine Corps veteran, was acquitted of seditious conspiracy but convicted of other serious charges, including being the first to breach the Capitol when he broke a window with a police shield.

Kelly sentenced Nordean to 18 years in prison on Friday; Pezzola to 10 years in prison that day; Biggs to 17 years in prison on Thursday; and Rehl to 15 years in prison that day.

Members of the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers were convicted of being leaders of the insurrection, when thousands of rioters fought police outside the Capitol and then rampaged through building, with some chanting for Vice President Mike Pence and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.

Trump was indicted on Aug. 1 on conspiracy charges related to obstructing Congress, but not inciting the Capitol attack or seditious conspiracy. He pleaded not guilty and has a trial scheduled for March 4.

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