Former Proud Boys leader Enrique Tarrio was convicted on Thursday of orchestrating a plot for members of his far-right extremist group to attack the U.S. Capitol in a desperate bid to keep Donald Trump in power after the Republican lost the 2020 presidential election.
A jury in Washington, D.C., found Tarrio guilty of seditious conspiracy after hearing from dozens of witnesses over more than three months in one of the most serious cases brought in the stunning attack that unfolded on Jan. 6, 2021, as the world watched on live TV.
It’s a significant milestone for the Justice Department, which has now secured seditious conspiracy convictions against the leaders of two major extremist groups prosecutors say were intent on keeping Democrat Joe Biden out of the White House at all costs. The charge carries a possible prison sentence of up to 20 years.
Tarrio was a top target of what has become the largest Justice Department investigation in American history. He led the neo-fascist group — known for street fights with left-wing activists — when Trump infamously told the Proud Boys to “stand back and stand by” during his first debate with Biden.
Tarrio wasn’t in Washington on Jan. 6, but prosecutors said he organized and directed the attack by Proud Boys who stormed the Capitol.
Defense lawyers said there was no plan to attack the Capitol or stop Congress’ certification of Biden’s win. A lawyer for Tarrio sought to push the blame onto Trump, arguing the former president incited the pro-Trump mob’s attack when he urged the crowd near the White House to “fight like hell.”
Tarrio, a Miami resident, was charged and tried with four other Proud Boys: Ethan Nordean, Joseph Biggs, Zachary Rehl and Dominic Pezzola. Nordean, of Auburn, Washington, was a Proud Boys chapter leader. Rehl led a group chapter in Philadelphia. Biggs, of Ormond Beach, Florida, was a self-described Proud Boys organizer. Pezzola was a group member from Rochester, New York.