5 Proud Boys, including fmr. leader, charged with ‘seditious conspiracy’ ahead of Jan. 6 TV spectacle

(Video: CNN)

The United States House Select Committee on the January 6 Attack is set to hold its first public hearing in a primetime television slot Thursday and, ahead of that spectacle, the Justice Department announced an additional indictment on five members of the Proud Boys Monday, charging them with seditious conspiracy.

The superseding indictment from the grand jury includes 10 new counts against members of the activist group. Among the defendants charged is Henry “Enrique” Tarrio, 38, of Miami, Florida who had been the national chairman of the Proud Boys. He is joined by Ethan Nordean, 31, of Auburn, WA; Zachary Rehl, 37, of Philadelphia, PA; Joseph Biggs, 38, of Ormond Beach, FL, and Dominic Pezzola, 44, of Rochester, NY.

In the release pertaining to the charges, the Department of Justice detailed: “A federal grand jury in the District of Columbia returned a superseding indictment today charging five members of the Proud Boys, including the group’s former national chairman, with seditious conspiracy and other charges for their actions before and during the breach of the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. Their actions disrupted a joint session of the U.S. Congress convened to ascertain and count the electoral votes related to the presidential election.”

Tarrio was established to have been in Maryland at the time the Capitol was breached. However, according to U.S. Code, seditious conspiracy is defined as having occurred “If two or more persons in any State or Territory, or in any place subject to the jurisdiction of the United States, conspire to overthrow, put down, or to destroy by force the Government of the United States, or to levy war against them, or to oppose by force the authority thereof, or by force to prevent, hinder, or delay the execution of any law of the United States, or by force to seize, take, or possess any property of the United States contrary to the authority thereof, they shall each be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than twenty years, or both.”

The new indictment charged that “The purpose of the conspiracy was to oppose the lawful transfer of presidential power by force, by opposing the authority of the Government of the United States and by preventing, hindering, or delaying by force the execution of the laws governing the transfer of power, including the Twelfth Amendment to the Constitution and Title 3, Section 15 of the United States Code.”

As CNN’s senior justice correspondent Evan Pérez explained, “This is a very rarely used charge” and “the last time before this was…a group of Oath Keepers, also involved in Jan 6, were also charged with seditious conspiracy.”

Among the 11 Oath Keepers charged with seditious conspiracy, at least three have pleaded guilty and are cooperating with the Justice Department. Meanwhile, retired Navy veteran Thomas Caldwell who was among those charged had said in January that he “did not go into the Capitol and they know it.”

“I’m absolutely outraged,” Caldwell said of the charges. “They don’t have any proof, and I’m innocent and we can prove my innocence.”

Carmen Hernandez, attorney for Rehl wrote in a filing reported by The Washington Post, “To bring such a serious charge against Mr. Rehl at this late date without alleging a single new fact against him is simply wrong and deserves a response.”

Charles Donohoe, a sixth defendant charged earlier with the group had previously pleaded guilty in April to “conspiracy to obstruct an official proceeding and assaulting, resisting, or impeding officers.” Should the five members of the Proud Boys be found guilty they face up to 20 years in prison.

Kevin Haggerty


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