After more than seven days of deliberation, the jury in the seditious conspiracy trial of former Proud Boys leaders reached a partial verdict that found at least four of the five defendants guilty of seditious conspiracy.
The verdict came after a months-long trial related to the Proud Boys’ actions amid the deadly January 6, 2021 insurrection upon the U.S. Capitol that attempted to prevent Congress from certifying President Biden’s victory in the 2020 election.
Former Proud Boys chair Henry “Enrique” Tarrio, as well as Ethan Nordean, Zachary Rehl, Carmen Hernandez, Joe Biggs and Dominic Pezzola, had all pleaded not guilty to seditious conspiracy, which is defined as attempting to “overthrow, put down or to destroy by force the government of the United States.”
All but Pezzola have so far been found guilty of seditious conspiracy. A verdict against Pezzola was still possible as of Thursday morning as the jury continued to deliberate. The conviction means a punishment of up to 20 years in prison for each defendant found guilty.
The group had faced a number of other charges along with seditious conspiracy. All five defendants have been found guilty of obstructing the Electoral College vote, which carries an up-to five years prison sentence, along with destruction of government property.
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.”
Until recently, “seditious conspiracy” 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: Ethan Nordean and other Proud Boys heading toward Capitol on January 6