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Justice Department asks for 30-year sentences for Proud Boys leaders convicted of sedition

By Katelyn Polantz, CNN Reporter, Crime and Justice

Washington (CNN) — The Justice Department is seeking three-decade prison sentences for the leaders of the Proud Boys convicted of seditious conspiracy for plotting and leading the crowd at the January 6, 2021, Capitol riot, positioning the men as failed, thuggish political revolutionaries.

In a new court filing, prosecutors say Enrique Tarrio, Ethan Nordean, Joseph Biggs, Zachary Rehl and Dominic Pezzola “intentionally positioned themselves at the vanguard of political violence in this country” for years and on January 6 sought to “change the course of American history.”

Prosecutors seek 33 years in prison for Tarrio and Biggs; 30 years for Rehl; 27 years for Nordean; and 20 years for Pezzola. The Proud Boys leaders are set to be sentenced August 29 by Judge Timothy Kelly of the US District Court in Washington.

A jury in Washington convicted four of the men in May of seditious conspiracy.

Tarrio was not on the grounds of the Capitol on January 6 but had stayed in touch with the others expressing his support. The other men were at the front of the crowd, breaking past barriers and the police line and smashing windows to let rioters inside the historic building in the first breaches that eventually led to Congress evacuating and temporarily halting their certification of the 2020 presidential election results.

The jury found Pezzola not guilty of seditious conspiracy, and he was not alleged to have a leadership position in the organization.

“The defendants understood the stakes, and they embraced their role in bringing about a ‘revolution.’ They unleashed a force on the Capitol that was calculated to exert their political will on elected officials by force and to undo the results of a democratic election. The foot soldiers of the right aimed to keep their leader in power. They failed. They are not heroes; they are criminals,” prosecutors wrote in the new filing.

The court filing, in many ways, is the summation of the yearslong effort by the US Attorney’s Office in the District of Columbia to prosecute hundreds of rioters who inflicted violence at the US Capitol on January 6. The Proud Boys leaders, the prosecutors argue, are even more responsible for the attack than the leadership of another militia group, the Oath Keepers, who stashed weapons just outside Washington as backup and suited up in military gear to march into the riot.

Stewart Rhodes, the founder of the Oath Keepers, received a sentence of 18 years in prison for his role on January 6 following his conviction of seditious conspiracy, the longest sentence so far among any defendant from that day.

The Justice Department had asked for Rhodes to receive 25 years.

“The conduct of these defendants is more egregious than that of the Oath Keeper defendants and warrants greater sentences,” the prosecutors wrote about the Proud Boys leaders.

“It is critical that this court impose significant sentences of incarceration on all the defendants in this case to convey to those who would mobilize such political violence in the future that their actions will have consequences.”

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