Prosecutors rest in sedition case against leaders
Federal prosecutors on Monday rested their seditious conspiracy case against former Proud Boys leader Enrique Tarrio and four lieutenants charged with plotting to stop the transfer of presidential power from Donald Trump to Joe Biden after the 2020 election.
Jurors will hear testimony from defense witnesses before deliberating in one of the most serious cases to come out of the Justice Department’s massive investigation of the violent Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol insurrection.
Defense attorneys have argued there is no evidence the Proud Boys plotted to attack the Capitol and stop Congress from certifying Biden’s electoral victory. Norm Pattis, an attorney for former Proud Boys leader Joseph Biggs, said the group Boys had no plan, “no understanding” and no “implicit conspiracy” for Jan. 6.
The jury in Washington’s federal court has heard more than 30 days of testimony over more than two months by more than 20 prosecution witnesses, including two former Proud Boys members who are cooperating with the government in hopes of lighter sentences.
Tarrio, a Miami resident who served as national chairman of the group, and the other Proud Boys could face up to 20 years in prison if convicted of seditious conspiracy.
The case comes on the heels of the seditious conspiracy convictions of Oath Keepers leader Stewart Rhodes and a Florida leader of the antigovernment group. Four other Oath Keepers were convicted of seditious conspiracy in January. Rhodes and other Oath Keepers are scheduled to be sentenced in May.
Also on trial with Tarrio and Biggs are Ethan Nordean, Zachary Rehl and Dominic Pezzola.
Nordean, of Auburn, Washington, was a Proud Boys chapter leader. Biggs, of Ormond Beach, Florida, was a self-described Proud Boys organizer. Rehl was president of the Proud Boys chapter in Philadelphia. Pezzola was a Proud Boys member from Rochester, New York.
Most of the defendants aren’t accused of engaging in violence themselves. Tarrio wasn’t even at the Capitol on Jan. 6.
“It’s too hard to blame Trump,” Sabino Jauregui, one of Tarrio’s lawyers, said during the trial’s opening statements. “It’s easier to blame Enrique as the face of the Proud Boys.”