Proud Boys ex-leader, 3 others convicted on 'seditious conspiracy' in Jan 6 trial

Over 1,000 people have been arrested in connection with January 6, many on misdemeanor charges.

Roberto Wakerell-Cruz Montreal QC
Four members of the Proud Boys were convicted on Thursday of seditious conspiracy in connection with the January 6, 2021 riot at the Capitol. 

The verdict came after a nearly four-month trial, as the Department of Justice marks over 1,000 charges in connection to the riot, Reuters reports.

Former Proud Boys leader Enrique Tarrio, who is also known to be an FBI informer, along with members Ethan Nordean, Joseph Biggs, and Zachary Rehl, were all found guilty of seditious conspiracy, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison. 

The defendants were also found guilty of other charges, including obstructing an official proceeding and conspiring to impede Congress from performing its duties. 

Prosecutors claimed that the Proud Boys had planned to attack the Capitol to overturn President Joe Biden's election victory, and that they had purchased paramilitary gear for the attack. 

Tarrio, who was ordered by a judge to stay out of Washington, DC after being arrested for burning a Black Lives Matter banner at a church, allegedly helped direct the attack from Baltimore. He was not in Washington, DC on January 6, 2021.

The trial of the Proud Boys members was the longest of any arising from the Capitol riot with the 12-member jury in federal court in Washington hearing about 50 days of testimony since January.

More than 500 people have pleaded guilty to charges related to the Capitol riot, and about 80 others have been convicted during trials. 

Defense lawyers told the jury that their clients had no plans to attack the Capitol and had traveled to Washington to protest. The defense also sought to blame former President Donald Trump, claiming that he had urged protesters to descend on the Capitol.

"They want to use Enrique Tarrio as a scapegoat for Donald Trump and those in power," said Tarrio's attorney Nayib Hassan during his closing argument to jurors.

Tarrio had already previously been charged with conspiracy in the US Capitol riot, with the DOJ saying in a statement that “Tarrio and his co-defendants…conspired to corruptly obstruct, influence, and impede an official proceeding, the certification of the Electoral College vote.”

“On Jan. 6, 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, and assaults on law enforcement,” the Justice Department said in a statement.

Court filings show that the Federal Bureau of Investigation had as many as eight informants inside the Proud Boys in the months leading up to the riot. 

Lawyers for the Proud Boys argued that the information provided to prosecutors could contradict the government’s allegation that their clients went to Washington, DC on Jan. 6 with a plan to storm the Capitol and disrupt the transfer of power from President Donald Trump to Joe Biden and instead prove that the riot was more spontaneous.

J. Daniel Hull, one of the lawyers for the group, questioned in papers filed in November “whether a Proud Boy conspiracy plan to obstruct the Biden-Harris vote certification or to commit sedition ever existed or could have existed.”

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