Former Proud Boys member Nordean gets 18-year sentence

September 1, 2023

Former Proud Boys member Ethan Nordean was sentenced Friday to 18 years prison for his role in the deadly January 6, 2021 insurrection on the U.S. Capitol.

Earlier this month, the Department of Justice requested a 27-year prison sentence for Nordean. 

He, along with former Proud Boys Chair Henry “Enrique” Tarrio, and fellow members of the far-right extremist group, Joe Biggs, and Zachary Rehl, were convicted  of seditious conspiracy in May after a months-long trial began in January. 

At his sentencing hearing, U.S. District Judge Timothy Kelly noted that once Tarrio was removed from the scene on January 6 due to having been arrested in Maryland two days earlier for destroying property at a historic African-American church, Nordean stepped in as the Proud Boys’ leader at the riot. 

Tarrio and Nordean had both been scheduled to be sentenced Wednesday, but Judge Kelly had to postpone their hearings after calling out sick. Tarrio is now scheduled for sentencing on Tuesday.

On Thursday, Judge Kelly sentenced Biggs to 17 years in prison despite the DOJ asking for a 33-year sentence for his crimes. Kelly sentenced Rehl to 15 years despite the DOJ’s request for 30 years for him.

Another former Proud Boys member, Dominic Pezzola, who was not found guilty of seditious conspiracy but was convicted of other serious crimes, was also sentenced Friday. He was slapped with a 10-year sentence, though prosecutors asked for 20.

The Proud Boys’ March 7 indictment can be read here, and a June 6 superseding indictment can be read here.

Seditious conspiracy is defined as attempting to “overthrow, put down or to destroy by force the government of the United States.” It had been rarely prosecuted before January 6.

In May the founder of far-right extremist group the Oath Keepers, Stewart Rhodes was also sentenced to 18 years for seditious conspiracy. 

All five Proud Boys defendants were also found guilty of destruction of government property along with obstructing the 2020 Electoral College vote which carries a prison sentence of up to five years.

During Nordean’s sentencing Friday his attorney, Nick Smith, argued that his client didn’t fall under terrorism enhancement because he was intoxicated on January 6, having consumed at least six drinks on his way to the Capitol. However, Judge Kelly responded that this was not particularly relevant since it did not come up at trial.

Judge Kelly also reportedly rejected a defense argument that Nordean’s destroying a fence that was guarding the Capitol that day was nothing more than “inappropriate behavior.” Rather, the judge countered that it was proven at trial that the fence’s destruction was done so for the purpose of interfering with Congress in its duty and that it was reasonably foreseeable that others would use violence as well.

Speaking on his own behalf, Nordean told those convened at his sentencing, “I would challenge anyone who is proud of what happened on January 6 to imagine it was your loved one who didn’t come home that day.”

At least 1,125 people have been charged related to the deadly January 6 assault. A reported more than 500 of them have been sentenced, with more than half receiving prison terms ranging from a week to over 14 years.

Four people died during the insurrection, and five police officers died of various causes following the attack.

Read more exclusive news from Political IQ.

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