(WASHINGTON) — Former Proud Boys national chairman Enrique Tarrio is set to be sentenced Tuesday for his conviction on charges of seditious conspiracy and several other felonies stemming from his leadership role in the Jan. 6, 2021, assault on the U.S. Capitol.
Tarrio will be the final leader of the far-right group convicted of seditious conspiracy in the Jan. 6 attack to be sentenced. While Tarrio was not present in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 6, prosecutors said he was the ringleader who helped orchestrate the events of Jan. 6.
Prosecutors are seeking 33 years in prison for Tarrio, their harshest recommended sentence yet for an individual charged in connection with the attack — though he is likely to receive much less than that based on the sentences handed down last week by U.S. District Judge Timothy Kelly for four of Tarrio’s co-defendants.
Judge Kelly went well below the sentencing guidelines in his prison terms handed down to Proud Boys leaders Joseph Biggs, who was sentenced to 17 years in prison, Zachary Rehl, who was sentenced to 15 years in prison, and Ethan Nordean, who received 18 years in prison — matching the longest sentence to date handed down in connection with the Capitol attack to Oath Keepers leader Stewart Rhodes. Dominic Pezzola, the sole defendant charged in the case who was found not guilty of seditious conspiracy, but who was convicted of several other major felonies, was sentenced last Friday to 10 years in prison.
In the hearings last week, Kelly explained his decisions to sentence the Proud Boys below what the federal sentencing guidelines called for, noting that previous decadeslong sentences handed down to individuals convicted of seditious conspiracy were often in cases where their actions directly resulted in loss of life.
“The defendants understood the stakes, and they embraced their role in bringing about a ‘revolution,"” prosecutors wrote in a sentencing memorandum earlier this month for Tarrio and the other Proud Boys. “They unleashed a force on the Capitol that was calculated to exert their political will on elected officials by force and to undo the results of a democratic election. The foot soldiers of the right aimed to keep their leader in power. They failed. They are not heroes; they are criminals.”
The recommendation underscores what prosecutors see as the Proud Boys’ singular role in igniting much of the violence at the Capitol that day, as well as Tarrio’s leadership in the conspiracy by directing his followers’ actions to disrupt Congress’ certification of the 2020 election — despite the fact he was not in Washington, D.C., during the attack.
The request of 33 years for Tarrio is eight years more than the 25 years prosecutors had previously sought for Rhodes, who received an 18-year sentence that prosecutors are now appealing, arguing it was too lenient.
It is not immediately clear whether prosecutors will similarly plan to appeal the sentences handed down to the Proud Boys.
In their 80-page sentencing memo, prosecutors argued that for years the far-right group “intentionally positioned themselves at the vanguard of political violence in this country” by bringing an “army of violence” to communities such as Portland, Oregon; Kalamazoo, Michigan; and Washington, D.C., where they often engaged in violent clashes with leftist protesters.
“They brought that violence to the Capitol on January 6 in an effort to change the course of American history, and the sentences imposed by this Court should reflect the seriousness of their offenses,” prosecutors said.
As they did through much of the more than four-month-long trial, prosecutors point out how the group became emboldened and saw a swelling of its ranks after former President Donald Trump mentioned them during a September 2020 presidential debate, in which he told the Proud Boys to “stand back and stand by” after being asked if he would condemn the group’s actions.
Tarrio previously had gathered members of the group to protests in D.C. in November and December of 2020 and even posted a photo of himself visiting the White House.
He was arrested in D.C. two days before Jan. 6 on charges that he burned a Black Lives Matter flag during one of the prior protests that had erupted into violence, as well as possession of two high-capacity firearms magazines. While he was ordered to stay out of the city as result of those charges, messages displayed by prosecutors during the trial showed him in close contact with associates as they carried out the attack on the building.
In their sentencing memo, prosecutors extensively cite the group’s calls for using force to stop the certification of President Joe Biden’s election win, their communications over encrypted messaging apps to organize and recruit others, and actions during key moments throughout the riot to help fuel the violence on the ground.
“Such conduct in leading and instigating an attack like January 6 demands deterrence,” prosecutors said. “It is critical that this Court impose significant sentences of incarceration on all the defendants in this case to convey to those who would mobilize such political violence in the future that their actions will have consequences.”
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