Fifth Proud Boy Found Not Guilty of Seditious Conspiracy

May 4, 2023


The jury in the trial of former Proud Boys leaders on Thursday found one defendant—Dominic Pezzola—not guilty of seditious conspiracy surrounding his actions during the deadly January 6, 2021 insurrection on the U.S. Capitol. 

The verdict came several hours after the jury found his co-defendants—Henry “Enrique” Tarrio, Ethan Nordean, Zachary Rehl, Carmen Hernandez and Joe Biggs—guilty of that charge which carries with it a punishment of up to 20 years in prison. 

The jury did find Pezzola guilty of assaulting police, robbing police of personal property (he had stolen a police officer’s riot shield amid the January 6 riot), destruction of government property and other charges. 

The verdicts came after a months-long trial related to the Proud Boys’ actions amid January 6 and the rioters’ attempt to prevent Congress from certifying President Biden’s victory in the 2020 election. 

It had been revealed Tuesday that the jury was struggling to come to a unanimous agreement on at least some of the charges. They’d sent a note to U.S. District Judge Timothy Kelly for additional instruction on what to do if they could not agree on all charges, to which he’d sent a note back saying they could reach a partial verdict. 

In their closing arguments on April 24, the prosecution had argued that the defendants stirred fellow Proud Boys toward violence in the lead up to January 6 and directed them that day to attack the U.S. Capitol building.

“These defendants saw themselves as Donald Trump’s army, fighting to keep their leader in power no matter what the law or the courts had to say about it,” said Department of Justice Attorney Conor Mulroe.

The defense in its closing arguments continued to press its assertion that there was no evidence Proud Boys plotted to attack the Capitol. Further, along with Tarrio most of the other defendants were not accused of engaging in violence themselves.

“It was Donald Trump’s words, it was his motivation, it was his anger that caused what occurred on January 6,” Nayib Hassan, Tarrio’s attorney, argued. “They want to use Enrique Tarrio as a scapegoat for Donald Trump and those in power.”

Seditious conspiracy is defined as attempting to “overthrow, put down or to destroy by force the government of the United States.” Until recently, it had rarely been prosecuted. However, in October the former leader of the Proud Boys, Jeremy Bertino, pleaded guilty to seditious conspiracy for his connections to the January 6 insurrection. 

In November, a jury found Stewart Rhodes, founder of the far-right group the Oath Keepers, guilty of seditious conspiracy linked to his actions during January 6, as well as the head of the Oath Keepers’ Florida chapter, Kelly Meggs. In January four more Oath Keepers were also found guilty of seditious conspiracy.

So far, prosecutors have brought criminal charges against more than 1,000 people following the assault on the U.S. Capitol. Four people died during the insurrection, and five police officers died of various causes following the attack.

PHOTO Source: Tyler Merbler

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