Henry “Enrique” Tarrio, leader of The Proud Boys, attends a protest showing support for Cubans demonstrating against their government, in Miami, Florida on July 16, 2021.
Eva Marie Uzcategui | AFP | Getty Images
Enrique Tarrio, the former leader of the far-right group Proud Boys, was sentenced to 22 years in prison Tuesday after being convicted of seditious conspiracy to disrupt the 2020 presidential election certification on Jan. 6, 2021.
Tarrio’s sentence is four years longer than the second-longest prison term received by any of the 1,100-plus people who have so far been charged in connection with the Capitol riot.
The Department of Justice sought to put Tarrio behind bars for 33 years, saying he used his skills as a “naturally charismatic leader” and “savvy propagandist” to organize and execute the plan to forcibly stop the peaceful transfer of power from former President Donald Trump to President Joe Biden.
A defense attorney for Tarrio had asked the judge to issue a sentence of no longer than 15 years.
Before he was sentenced, Tarrio approached the bench to express remorse and to disavow some of his statements surrounding the events of Jan. 6.
“To the men and women of law enforcement who answered the call that day, I’m sorry,” Tarrio said, NBC News reported.
Tarrio said he “failed miserably” to hold himself to a higher moral standard. “I thought of myself morally above others and this trial has humbled me,” he said.
But U.S. District Judge Timothy Kelly appeared unmoved by Tarrio’s remarks.
“I don’t have any indication that he’s remorseful for the actual things that he’s convicted of,” the judge said before sentencing the former Proud Boys chair to more than two decades in prison.
Tarrio, 39, was convicted in May on six felonies including seditious conspiracy, obstruction of an official proceeding and destruction of government property.
Kelly last week delivered lower sentences than what prosecutors requested for Tarrio’s co-defendants, three of whom were also convicted of seditious conspiracy.
But they hardly got off scot-free. Ethan Nordean, who led the Seattle chapter of the Proud Boys, on Friday was sentenced to 18 years in prison, tying him with Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes for the longest Jan. 6-related sentence prior to Tarrio’s.
Earlier that day, Dominic Pezzola, another defendant in the case, received a 10-year sentence. As he was led out of the courtroom at the end of the hearing, Pezzola reportedly raised his fist and yelled, “Trump won!”
Two other Proud Boys leaders were sentenced a day earlier. Joseph Biggs, a far-right commentator, got 17 years in prison, while Proud Boys’ Philadelphia chapter president Zachary Rehl was sentenced to 15 years.
The DOJ had sought 27 years in prison for Nordean; 33 years for Biggs; 30 years for Rehl; and 20 years for Pezzola. Of the five, Pezzola was the only defendant who was not found guilty of seditious conspiracy.
A sixth defendant in the Proud Boys case, Charles Donohoe, pleaded guilty in April 2022 to charges of conspiracy and assaulting officers.
The DOJ has charged more than 1,100 defendants in relation to the Jan. 6 Capitol riot. But Tarrio and his co-defendants played a “central role” in “setting into motion the unlawful events of that day,” Attorney General Merrick Garland said after they were found guilty.
The defendants were convicted of directing a large group of Proud Boys and other pro-Trump rioters to storm the Capitol grounds on Jan. 6, 2021, when Congress had convened to confirm Biden‘s victory over Trump in the 2020 election.
Tarrio’s lawyers had asked for a lower sentence than what the prosecutors had requested, noting in part that he was not personally present at the Capitol on the day of the riot. He was in Baltimore, having left Washington on a court order a day earlier after being arrested on charges related to the burning of a Black Lives Matter banner.
Trump, who falsely claimed he beat Biden, challenged the results and spread unfounded conspiracy theories about widespread election fraud. Then, at a rally in Washington on the morning of Jan. 6, he urged a crowd of his supporters to march to the Capitol and “fight like hell” to pressure GOP congressmen and then-Vice President Mike Pence to reject the electoral votes.
The former president, who is now the top contender for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination, has been charged in two separate cases with crimes related to his allegedly unlawful efforts to overturn the 2020 election. He has pleaded not guilty.
Tarrio and Nordean were initially set to be sentenced last Wednesday, but their hearings were postponed after Kelly abruptly called out sick.
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