Proud Boys sentencing hearings cancelled ‘due to emergency’

A hearing for ex-leader Enrique Tarrio has been postponed to 5 September

Alex Woodward
Wednesday 30 August 2023 16:01 BST
4 Proud Boys Members Found Guilty of Seditious Conspiracy

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Louise Thomas

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Federal prison sentencing hearings for former Proud Boys leader Enrique Tarrio and prominent member Ethan Nordean were abruptly postponed minutes before their scheduled appearances on Wednesday.

An announcement from the US Department of Justice stated that the hearings were cancelled due to an unspecified emergency, though a spokesperson for the court clarified that there was no emergency.

Tarrio’s sentencing is now scheduled for 2pm on 5 September. Nordean will be sentenced at 2pm on 1 September.

US District Judge Tim Kelly, who presided over the nearly four-month trial, appeared to be out sick. The judge heard witness impact statements and arguments from prosecutors and defense attorneys on 29 August ahead of this week’s sentences.

Tarrio, the former leader of the neo-fascist gang, and three other members of the group were found guilty of seditious conspiracy earlier this year for their roles in the January 6 attack on the US Capitol, among the most serious crimes facing the hundreds of people arrested in connection with the mob’s assault.

Prosecutors are seeking 33 years for Tarrio and 27 years for Nordean, what would be the longest sentences yet in connection with the attack.

Tarrio, Nordean, Joe Biggs, Dominic Pezzola and Zachary Rehl were also found guilty of obstruction of an official proceeding. Four of the men – all but Pezzola – were also found guilty of conspiracy to obstruct an official proceeding, civil disorder and destruction of government property.

The jury found Tarrio, Biggs, Nordean and Rehl guilty of seditious conspiracy after conspiring to forcefully oppose the lawful transfer of presidential power.

Prosecutors are also seeking 33 years for Biggs, 30 years for Rehl and 20 years for Pezzola.

Now-former Proud Boys leader Enrique Tarrio is pictured leaving Washington DC jail in January 22.
Now-former Proud Boys leader Enrique Tarrio is pictured leaving Washington DC jail in January 22. (REUTERS)

The E Barrett Prettyman Courthouse has seen wave after wave of high-profile activity in the wake of the January 6 attack and the hundreds of arrests and court hearings that have followed, including an historic arraignment for former president Donald Trump after he was federally charged for his alleged attempts to overturn the 2020 presidential election.

The schedule for 30 August appeared to be no different, with a sentencing hearing for a convicted member of the far-right Oath Keepers militia and a pretrial conference for Peter Navarro, among other hearings, in addition to the first of four sentencings for Proud Boys members convicted on treason-related charges.

Fifteen people connected to the January 6 attack, including Oath Keepers leader Stewart Rhodes, have either been convicted by a jury or pleaded guilty on charges of seditious conspiracy in the aftermath of the riots. Tarrio’s verdict marked the first successful seditious conspiracy conviction against a January 6 defendant who was not physically at the Capitol that day.

Tarrio and Rhodes – who was sentenced to 18 years in prison, the longest January 6 sentence to date – are among the most prominent figures in the Justice Department’s efforts, which have netted more than 1,000 arrests and more than 700 convictions in connection with January 6.

Prosecutors have argued that both men fuelled violence and radicalized followers with a constant drumbeat of conspiracy theories echoing the former president’s baseless narrative that the 2020 presidential election was stolen from him.

During the Proud Boys trial, prosecutors presented hundreds of pieces of evidence from the days leading up to the January 6 attack, revealing the group’s toxic rhetoric, culture of violence and damning messages depicting a gang “that came together to use force against its enemies,” according to prosecutors.

Prosecutors argued that the Proud Boys were not merely obedient followers of the former president’s commands but were preparing for “all-out war” to undermine millions of Americans’ votes and upend a democratic election to preserve his presidency.

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