Four members of the Proud Boys, including former leader Enrique Tario, took President Donald J. Trump to power after they lost the election by attacking the Capitol on January 6 and leading a violent mob. was convicted on Thursday of seditious conspiracy charges in an attempt to keep him in office.
The jury in this case found one of the defendants, Dominic Pezzola, guilty of other serious felonies, but did not reach a sedition charge.
The ruling, handed down after seven days of deliberation in Washington’s federal district court, is a major blow to one of the country’s most notorious far-right groups and a new addition to the massive Justice Department investigation into the Capitol attack. It was a milestone.
The trial was the last of three sedition cases filed by federal prosecutors against key players in the Capitol attack.
Rarely used and a reminder of the Confederacy’s efforts to protect the federal government from Separatist rebels during the Civil War, the sedition charge was two charges against nine members of the Oath Keepers militia, another far-right group. It was also used in separate trials. Six of those defendants—including stewart rose, the organization’s founder and leader — was convicted of sedition. Each of the others was convicted of various serious felonies.
Mr. Tario, Mr. Pezzola and the other defendants – Ethan Nordine, Joseph Biggs and Zachary Lehr – remained cool as the verdict was read out in the courtroom on the fourth floor. Except for Mr. Pezola, the men were also found guilty of conspiring to sabotage the authentication of the elections held at the Capitol on January 6. He interfered in the duties of the members of parliament that day.
The conspiracy count alone, along with other felony convictions, could put a man facing up to about 50 years in prison.
The Proud Boys Fighting in the streets since 2017 Due to a string of far-right causes — which became the central focus of the Jan. 6 FBI investigation within days of the attack. His more than 20 other members of the group, with chapters from New York to Hawaii, were eventually charged in separate cases in connection with the Capitol attack.
The sedition trial dragged on for more than three months and was characterized by frequent delays, strained relations between defense and prosecution, and several decisions by presiding judge Timothy J. Kelly that tested the limits of conspiracy law.
Judge Kelly’s ruling allowed prosecutors to present devastating evidence of the members of the Proud Boys’ violent behavior and offensive language. Limited ties to five defendantsThe ruling also allowed jurors to convict of conspiracy even though they found no plan to interfere with the election’s certification, merely an implied agreement to do so.
From the outset, this trial offered a unique and disturbing glimpse. Proud Boys Cultureoften accompanied by sophomoric humor and rampant alcohol use, as mountains of in-house group chats and recordings revealed a toxic stew of machismo, homophobia, and misogyny. I’ve heard it engages in anti-Semitism and in some cases promotes outright sympathy for the Nazis.
Mr. Trump cast a large shadow over the proceedings.of closing argument.
They told jurors that the defendants and other members of the group refused to accept Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s victory and acted as “Donald Trump’s army” to organize and eventually fight. rice field. what the law or court had to say about it. ”
A classic example of the Proud Boys’ ties to Trump was Trump’s December 2020 Twitter message calling for “barbaric” protests in Washington on January 6. is. , Mr. Tario and his lieutenants organized a group of so-called “real men”. Ministry of Defense — to be on the ground in Washington that day.
In a private online chat, Thario said the group aims to “standardize the organization of events.” But he also added a cryptic message: “—whispering—1776.” called “violent gangs assembled to wield force against their enemies”.
of series of searches Before the trial began, investigators collected over 500,000 text messages from the Ministry of Defense and other Proud Boys group chats. However, there was no clear plan to raid the building or forcibly interfere with the election verification process taking place inside.
In the absence of conclusive evidence, the prosecutor used two cooperating witnesses, Jeremy Bertino And Matthew Green made the inference that the five defendants joined forces to violently subvert the democratic process.
Bertino, a proud boy from North Carolina who pleaded guilty to sedition in dealing with the government, told the jury He said the Proud Boys’ culture of violence and rising post-election desperation led to the disastrous results of Jan. 6. Even if there were no explicit orders to attack the Capitol on that day, Members of the group believed there was an unspoken order: they banded together to prevent Mr. Biden from entering the White House and agreed to spearhead an “all-out revolution.”
“I expected him to save the country by any means necessary, including violence,” Mr Bertino said.
Green, a former Proud Boy from New York, testified that he was surprised when the group’s leaders, including Nordine, Biggs and Rail, marched away from about 200 Proud Boys. Trump’s speech Near the ellipse on January 6 and towards the Capitol.
But when the mob broke through the barricades outside the building minutes after the Proud Boys arrived, Green said he realized this may have been planned from the beginning.
“I was putting two and two together,” he recalls.
From the start of the trial, prosecutors faced another difficult hurdle.
The Proud Boys as a whole were some of the most violent actors in the mob that stormed the Capitol where a large number of members performed Decisive role in breaking through barricades and attacking police.
However, violence by the defendants themselves, who were mainly leaders of the group, was relatively limited. Tario was not in Washington on Jan. 6 because he was kicked out of the city a few days earlier by a local judge in charge of another criminal case.
To file a case against the five men on trial, prosecutors persuaded Judge Kelly to allow other Proud Boys in the rioting crowd, even though they had limited ties to the defendants. and allowed Trump supporters to show their videos. Prosecutors alleged that Tario and the other defendants used other mobs as mobs. The “tools” of their conspiracy — New legal strategy.
The defense was outraged by this theory, claiming the approach was “ridiculous” and arming the prosecution with “extended powers,” but to no avail.
Mr Nordine’s attorney, Nicholas Smith, told the court, “There is an argument that they acted badly simply because the defendants had relationships with people who did bad things.” Another term for is associative guilt.”
Unlike the Oath Keepers, who were largely extinguished by the Justice Department’s Jan. 6 indictment, the Proud Boys largely survived. remains a right-wing infantry. In recent years, the group has intervened at the local level in disputes over issues such as coronavirus restrictions, anti-racism teaching in schools, threats to drag shows and efforts to use violence.
Some members also sought more traditional means of power and ran for public office.The most successful of these efforts took place in Miami, where his six current and former Proud Boys Secures seat on Miami-Dade Republican Executive Committeeseeking to influence local politics from within.
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