Proud Boys could get record sentences in Jan. 6 seditious conspiracy case

Enrique Tarrio in Washington, D.C. (U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia)
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WASHINGTON — The former leader of the Proud Boys could face the longest prison sentence of any Jan. 6 defendant when a federal judge hands down punishments for members of the far-right group convicted of seditious conspiracy charges related to the Capitol attack.

Sentencing was set to move forward this week after U.S. District Judge Timothy Kelly oversaw an all-day hearing Tuesday in the Proud Boys case that included the reading of victim impact statements. But Wednesday's first sentencings were postponed because Kelly is sick, a spokesperson for the U.S. Marshals Service told NBC News.

All five defendants, who are in jail while they await sentencing, were in court Tuesday wearing orange prison jumpsuits.

Prosecutors are seeking 33 years in federal prison for Enrique Tarrio, the former leader, who was originally scheduled to be sentenced Wednesday morning. Ethan Nordean was to be sentenced Wednesday afternoon, with prosecutors seeking a 27-year prison sentence.

Rescheduling logistics are currently being worked out, a court spokesperson said. Tarrio will now be sentenced on Sept. 5 at 2 p.m. and Nordean's is set for Sept. 1 at 2 p.m.

Joe Biggs — whom prosecutors want to spend 33 years behind bars — was scheduled to have his sentencing hearing on Thursday along with Zach Rehl, whom the Justice Department wants to serve 30 years in prison.

Dominic Pezzola — the only Proud Boy convicted in the case who was not found guilty of the rare seditious conspiracy charge — was to be sentenced Friday. Prosecutors are seeking 20 years in prison.

Jurors reached verdicts in the Proud Boys case in May after a four-month trial that began with jury selection in December. Other members of the Oath Keepers have also been found guilty of seditious conspiracy, with founder Stewart Rhodes sentenced in May to 18 years in federal prison — the longest to date of any Jan. 6 defendant.

At Tuesday's hearing, the defendants heard victim impact statements from three current and former members of the U.S. Capitol Police who fought rioters on Jan. 6, 2021, and testified at the defendants’ monthslong trial.

U.S. Capitol Police Officer Shae Cooney delivered an emotional statement, saying through tears that it was one of the first times she had discussed the fear and pain she experienced during the riot. She also alluded to the death of “a friend” — Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick, who collapsed after having fought rioters and died the next day.

“Every day we have to be reminded that he’s not here anymore because the people in this courtroom decided that they weren’t happy with how an election went,” Cooney said. “And they thought the best idea was to break into the Capitol, fight police officers and try to overturn an election.”

Capitol Police Inspector Thomas Lloyd, a frequent witness during Jan. 6 trials, expressed his pride in the officers he commanded during the riot.

“Despite the tremendous beating my personnel took on Jan. 6, all those who could walk showed up to work the next day,” he said at Tuesday's hearing. “Once again, I could not be prouder.”

A third victim, former Capitol Police Officer Marc Ode, could not attend in person but sent a letter for prosecutors to read on his behalf.

He wrote that Jan. 6 was a “planned and organized attempt to overthrow our constitutional process by individuals who determined that their opinion of the few were superior to our constitution and decided to use violence and terror to impose their will.”

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