Speed Reads

Crime and Punishment

Proud Boys leaders found guilty of 'seditious conspiracy' in Jan. 6 trial

More than two years after members of the far-right extremist group the Proud Boys participated in the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, jurors on Thursday found four of the organization's top figures guilty of some of the most serious convictions stemming from the riot to date, including the rarely prosecuted crime of "seditious conspiracy."

Former Proud Boys leader Enrique Tarrio, along with chapter leaders Joseph Biggs, Zachary Rehl, and Ethan Nordean, were each convicted on sedition charges for their respective roles in helping organize and execute the 2021 attack. A fifth defendant, Dominic Pezzola, was found guilty of obstructing Congress. The seditious conspiracy verdicts join a handful of such convictions the Justice Department has won against leaders of militia organizations for helping plan and carry out the Jan. 6 insurrection, including the conviction of Oath Keepers founder and leader Stuart Rhodes in November.

During closing arguments, federal prosecutor Conor Mulroe told jurors that the defendants were "lined up behind Donald Trump and willing to commit violence on his behalf," after showing the court text messages and social media posts from Tarrio encouraging the Proud Boys to "do what must be done," and taking credit for the siege. 

"These defendants saw themselves as Donald Trump's army, fighting to keep their preferred leader in power no matter what the law or the courts had to say about it," Mulroe said, connecting Trump's Twitter invitation for supporters to attend his "wild" Stop The Steal rally on Jan. 6, and the riot that ultimately ensued. Earlier in the trial, defense attorneys similarly linked the day's violence to Trump's call for the Proud Boys to "stand back and stand by," unsuccessfully asking the court to subpoena Trump on behalf of his clients. 

After three months of trial in Washington, D.C., Tarrio, Biggs, Rehl, Nordean, and Pezzola now await sentencing for their respective convictions, even as jurors in the case have been directed by the presiding judge to continue deliberations over Pezzola's sedition charge.