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Home POLITICS Prosecutors charge Proud Boys with seditious conspiracy in Jan. 6 case

Prosecutors charge Proud Boys with seditious conspiracy in Jan. 6 case

WASHINGTON — With a trial on the horizon and at least one cooperator locked up, federal prosecutors on Monday raised the stakes for the Proud Boys leaders charged in the Jan. 6 attack on Capitol Hill, announcing a new indictment of seditious conspiracy.

The original conspiracy without sedition case against Henry “Enrique” Tarrio, former national president of the Proud Boys, and his four co-defendants already carried significant potential prison time, but Monday’s replacement indication added two new felony charges along with the symbolic weight of the seditious conspiracy charge. They had previously been charged with conspiring to obstruct congressional certification of the Electoral College vote. The latest set of charges widened the scope of the alleged criminal conduct, accusing them of conspiring to “oppose the legal transfer of presidential power by force.”

It is the second highly successful Justice Department seditious conspiracy case in connection with the January 6 insurrection. Signaling prosecutors’ focus on the role extremist movements played in the attack, the first seditious conspiracy indictment was filed in January against Oath Keepers leader Elmer Stewart Rhodes and a group of other defendants with an alleged connection with the group.

More than 800 people have been charged to date in connection with the January 6; the most common crimes have been obstructing Congress and assaulting or interfering with the police. Seditious conspiracy is a crime that is rarely charged in federal prosecutions. The latest accusation from the Proud Boys came on the eve of a public hearing scheduled for June 9 in prime time before the special congressional committee investigating the attack. The committee’s work included investigating the involvement of far-right groups such as the Proud Boys, which has described its members as “Western chauvinists,” and the Oath Keepers, which has targeted its recruitment of current and former members of the armed forces and the law.

Most of the new Proud Boys indictment largely traces the conspiracy case that a federal grand jury in Washington, DC, returned in March against Tarrio and his co-defendants Ethan Nordean, Joseph Biggs, Zachary Rehl and Dominic Pezzola. It repeats almost word for word the prosecutors’ allegations about what the group did before, during and immediately after a mob of thousands invaded the Capitol complex. A new paragraph near the end describes a series of texts that prosecutors say Tarrio exchanged celebrating the attack with an unidentified person known as “PERSONA-1” shortly before members of Congress returned in the evening to finish certifying the attack. choice once the police had cleared it. building.

According to the government, after PERSON-1 wrote to Tarrio: “Brother. You know we made this happen” and “Today I am very proud of my country”. Tarrio replied, “I know.” PERSON-1 texted, “1776 motherfuckers,” and Tarrio replied, “The Winter Palace”; the prosecution did not elaborate on what prosecutors believed Tarrio was referring to. PERSON-1 texted, “Dude. Did we just influence the story? and Tarrio replied: “Let’s see how this plays out first.”

A jury trial in the conspiracy without sedition case is scheduled to begin on August 8. It was not immediately clear if the new indictment would change that timeline. Tarrio and his co-defendants are in jail awaiting trial and will appear before US District Judge Timothy Kelly for a hearing previously scheduled for this week.

Tarrio’s attorney, Nayib Hassan, wrote in an email that “Mr. Tarrio will have his day in court and we will vigorously represent our client through this process. Mr. Tarrio looks forward to being vindicated on these allegations.”

Carmen Hernandez, Rehl’s attorney he asked the court to obtain permission to post a statement in response to the new charges on behalf of your client. Hernandez cited court rules that limit attorneys from speaking publicly about pending cases and argued that the Justice Department had circumvented that rule by issuing a press release announcing the latest indictment. Hernández also used the presentation to question the legal basis of the seditious conspiracy charge against his client.

“Filing such serious charges against Mr. Rehl at this late date without alleging a single new fact against him is simply wrong and deserves a response. Indeed, in decades of defending attorneys charged with federal criminal offenses, Much of my career was spent as a public defender representing indigent people and people of color, I shouldn’t be surprised at the heavy hand of federal prosecutors,” Hernandez wrote. Other defense attorneys in the case did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Like the Oath Keepers case, the Proud Boys conspiracy case had been pending in a few different iterations since last year. Tarrio was added in March. He is not accused of being physically on Capitol Hill or participating in the Jan. 6 attack (he had been arrested two days earlier and ordered to leave DC the next day), but rather is accused of playing a central role in the attack. group planning and encourage the people who were in the place that day. However, prosecutors say Tarrio did not immediately leave town on January 5 and instead he met Rhodes and other people in an underground parking lot. Tarrio pleaded guilty in the DC case and finished serving his jail sentence earlier this year.

The looming conspiracy charges have led to a series of cooperation agreements in cases involving the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers. Charles Donohoe of Kernersville, North Carolina, the leader of a local Proud Boys chapter, pleaded guilty in April in connection with the earlier version of the Proud Boys conspiracy case that included Tarrio and agreed to cooperate with the government.

Donohoe’s guilty plea included an admission that he knew that leaders within the organization “were discussing storming the Capitol” at least two days before the Jan. 6 attack and that the group’s “goal” was to stop the peaceful transfer of power. Late last year, Matthew Greene, a member of the Proud Boys charged in a separate conspiracy case, pleaded guilty and agreed to cooperate with federal investigators. Eight people with connections to Oath Keepers have pleaded guilty and agreed to cooperate with the government, including three who have pleaded guilty to seditious conspiracy.

The latest Proud Boys indictment also adds a new charge that accuses the group of conspiring to prevent members of Congress and police officers from carrying out their duties through the use of force, intimidation or threats. The seditious conspiracy charge carries the same maximum penalty, up to 20 years in prison, as some of the other felonies that Tarrio and his co-defendants already faced in the previous indictment.

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