Former Proud Boys boss Enrique Tarrio has been sentenced to 22 years in federal prison after begging a judge for mercy after commanding the Capitol siege – the longest sentence handed down over January 6.
Tarrio, 39, was the final leader of the neo-fascist group convicted of seditious conspiracy to be sentenced and faced 33 years in prison. Judge Timothy Kelly ruled that Tarrio was ‘the ultimate leader of that conspiracy,’ but still did not abide by the government’s sentence request.
During his hearing, Tarrio dropped a bombshell and admitted that Trump lost the 2020 election. ‘On November 3, 2020, something that I never expected happened – my candidate lost. I felt like something was personally stolen from me.’
The Florida-native turned to blame the right-wing media saying: ‘Every media channel that I turned to told me I was justified.’ He said that he was ‘not a political zealot’ and changing the outcome of the election was not his goal on January 6.
Former Proud Boys national chairman Enrique Tarrio has been sentenced to prison
Proud Boys leader Enrique Tarrio (pictured with co-defendent Joseph Biggs) was found guilty of seditious conspiracy over the January 6 riot in 2021
Tarrio’s lawyer said he took the above picture by the Capitol because he felt bad for the Proud Boys who were being detained after the riot
The far-right propagandist wasn’t in Washington on January 6 – he was arrested two days earlier in a separate case – but he was convicted of helping put in motion and encourage the violence interrupted Congress’ certification of Biden’s electoral victory after Donald Trump’s electoral loss.
Wearing an orange prison jumpsuit and escorted by U.S. Marshals, the Cuban-American from Florida took the stand to ask judge Timothy Kelly for mercy, apologizing to the officers who responded during the riot and the citizens of D.C., saying he ‘blamed himself.’
‘Today I stand before you a different man… I wish to reorient my life’s purpose… I want to rejoin my local church and be an active part of helping others,’ Tarrio told the court. ‘I hope your honor can hear the sincerity… please show me mercy… ‘Do not take my 40s from me… God bless this entire court.’
He claimed that he had really believed the presidential election was stolen and let media coverage influence his desire to ‘protect’ right wingers from Antifa protesters.
‘I have failed as a son, as a fiancée, as a brother, as a nephew… I have been selfish,’ Tarrio said.
Judge Kelly said of January 6: ‘That day broke our previously unbroken tradition of the peaceful transfer of power, which is truly among the most precious things that we had as Americans… that previously unbroken string is now broken. And it’s going to take time and effort to fix it.’
The judge seemed to be particularly disturbed by Tarrio’s infamously comparison of the January 6 rioters to the nation’s founding fathers.
He added: ‘[Tarrio’s] apologized here today, but I must say, comparing what Dominic Pezzola did to George Washington – the man who helped encourage the notion of a peaceful, orderly transfer of power – by relinquishing power to let someone else be chosen… it slanders the father of our country.’
Three fellow Proud Boys found guilty by a Washington D.C. jury of the rarely used sedition charge were sentenced to prison terms ranging from 15 to 18 years – less than prosecutors wanted.
Tarrio’s defense team argued during the sentencing hearing that the convicted sedition conspiracist is a ‘misguided patriot’ instead of a terrorist, and was just being a ‘Keyboard Ninja,’ saying things ‘he shouldn’t have,’ as reported by independent journalist Gonzo News.
Judge Kelly reminded Tarrio’s lawyers team that a jury did not buy that defense strategy when it decided to convict him, and ruled that Tarrio was at the top of the Proud Boy’s command structure during the riot.
Ultimately the judge ruled Tarrio’s crimes intended to coerce the conduct of government when his lieutenants brought down a barrier between police and rioters and thus qualified him for terrorism enhancement for his sentencing.
However, the judge again noted the Proud Boys’ crimes did not have the terror ‘intent’ of someone who blows up a building.
Tarrio’s aunt and godmother sent in letters pleading for leniency which were read by defense attorney Nayib Hassan.
‘Henry [Tarrio’s birth name] is not a monster like he’s made out to be,’ the letter read.
Tarrio’s mother, fiancée, and his younger sister also spoke of Tarrio’s character as they asked for leniency, saying his incarceration has greatly affected his family.
The younger sister teared up as she spoke, saying: ‘he is the glue that keeps us together… the idea of him not being around for all the milestones is hard to bear.’
Tarrio is seen in a court sketch after his March, 2022, arrest in Miami
Tarrio discussed ‘storming’ the Capitol prior to January 6, but was arrested upon entry into the capital on January 5, 2021 for a prior offense of burning the Black Lives Matter flag
The Justice Department has asked for Tarrio to spend more than three decades in prison, describing him as the ringleader of a plot to use violence to shatter the cornerstone of American democracy and overturn the election victory by Joe Biden, a Democrat, over Trump, the Republican incumbent.
Tarrio discussed ‘revolutions’ and ‘storming’ the Capitol complex prior to January 6, but was arrested upon entry into the capital on January 5, 2021 for a prior offense of burning the Black Lives Matter flag and on several weapons charges.
The Miami native was supposed to be sentenced last week in Washington’s federal court, but his hearing was delayed because Judge Kelly got sick.
Kelly, who was nominated to the bench by Trump, sentenced Tarrio’s co-defendants to lengthy prison terms – though far shorter than prosecutors were seeking.
Self-described Proud Boys organizer Joe Biggs sobbed as he was sentenced to 17 years on Thursday for his role in the riot after pleading for leniency to take care of his daughter and ailing mother.
Judge Kelly wasn’t having it, as he said Americans are the envy of the world and U.S. elections must be respected, telling Biggs: ‘You did play a role in riling up the crowd.
‘If you don’t like how an election is being conducted… you can speak out, call, write or meet with election officials. You can engage in peaceful protest. File a lawsuit.’
The judge ruled that Biggs qualified for a terrorism sentencing enhancement because he teared down a fence that stood between police and rioters.
Prosecutors on Tuesday asked Kelly to hand out a harsher punishment for Tarrio than his co-defendants, arguing he was the leader of the operation, and as a someone with a criminal record was a less sympathetic figure than Biggs, who’s a veteran.
‘We need to make sure the consequences are clear to anybody who might be unhappy with any future election as long as this case is remembered…this was a calculated act of terrorism,’ prosecutors said during the sentencing.
Former Proud Boys leader Joe Biggs sobbed as he was sentenced to 17 years in prison over his role in the January 6 , 2021, riots at the U.S. Capitol
Proud Boys member Ethan Nordean walks toward the U.S. Capitol in Washington, in support of President Donald Trump on January 6, 2021
Proud Boys members including Zachary Rehl, left, Ethan Nordean, center, and Joseph Biggs, walk toward the U.S. Capitol in Washington, in support of President Donald Trump
Ethan Nordean, who prosecutors said was the Proud Boys’ leader on the ground on January 6, was sentenced to 18 years in prison, tying the record for the longest sentence in the attack.
Prosecutors had asked for 27 years for Nordean, who was a Seattle-area Proud Boys chapter president.
Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes, who was found guilty of seditious conspiracy in a separate case, was sentenced in May to 18 years in prison. Prosecutors, who had sought 25 years for Rhodes, are appealing his sentence and the punishments of other members of his antigovernment militia group.
‘Tarrio has repeatedly and publicly indicated that he has no regrets about what he helped make happen on January 6,’ prosecutors wrote in court documents.
Lawyers for the Proud Boys deny that there was any plot to attack the Capitol or stop the transfer of presidential power.
‘There is zero evidence to suggest Tarrio directed any participants to storm the U.S. Capitol building prior to or during the event,’ his attorneys wrote in court papers.
‘Participating in a plan for the Proud Boys to protest on January 6 is not the same as directing others on the ground to storm the Capitol by any means necessary.’
Police arrested Tarrio in Washington on Jan. 4, 2021, on charges that he defaced a Black Lives Matter banner during an earlier rally in the nation´s capital, but law enforcement officials later said he was arrested in part over concerns about the potential for unrest during the certification. He complied with a judge´s order to leave the city after his arrest.
On Jan. 6, dozens of Proud Boys leaders, members and associates were among the first rioters to breach the Capitol. The mob´s assault overwhelmed police, forced lawmakers to flee the House and Senate floors and disrupted the joint session of Congress for certifying Biden´s victory.
The backbone of the government´s case was hundreds of messages exchanged by Proud Boys in the days leading up to Janury 6.
As Proud Boys swarmed the Capitol, Tarrio cheered them on from afar, writing on social media: ‘Do what must be done.’ In a Proud Boys encrypted group chat later that day someone asked what they should do next.
Tarrio responded: ‘Do it again.’
Tarrio wrote ‘Do what must be done’ on social media as they swarmed the Capitol, and when asked what they should do next, he replied: ‘Do it again’
Prosecutors argued the Proud Boys were at the front lines of the mob on Capitol grounds and were there when the first barriers were breached
‘Make no mistake,’ Tarrio wrote in another message. ‘We did this.’
Tarrio led the neo-fascist group – known for street fights with left-wing activists – when Trump infamously told the Proud Boys to ‘stand back and stand by’ during his first debate with Joe Biden.
During the month long trial, prosecutors argued that the Proud Boys viewed themselves as foot soldiers fighting for Trump as the Republican spread lies that Democrats stole the election from him.
Attorneys argued that members of the group were prepared to go to war to keep their preferred leader in power.
Defense lawyers denied there was any plot to attack the Capitol or stop Congress’ certification of Biden’s win.
The investigation has become the largest for the Justice Department in American history, and it hadn’t tried a seditious conspiracy case in over a decade.
The riots followed months of false claims by Trump and his allies that the election had been rigged against him.
A select House committee investigated the riots and in its final report accused Trump of a criminal conspiracy to overturn the results of the 2020 election.
The committee estimated that from the election to Jan. 6, the president and aides made hundreds of efforts to pressure officials to overturn the results.
Trump supporters surround a noose and a gallows near the Capitol, on January 6
Targets included states he lost but that had GOP-led legislatures such as Michigan, Pennsylvania, Georgia, and Arizona.
Trump has since been indicted for this role in the riots, with a grand jury indictment accusing him of spreading ‘lies’ and ‘sham’ investigations while stoking an ‘angry’ mob on January 6.
Special Counsel Jack Smith said in a televised public statement following the release of the indictment that the attack on the Capitol was ‘fueled by lies’ made by Trump ‘targeted at obstructing the bedrock function of the U.S. government – the nation’s process of collecting, counting and certifying the results of the presidential election.’ He pledged that his office will conduct a ‘speedy’ trial.
Trump is facing four counts including conspiracy to defraud the U.S. government and obstruct the electoral count for trying to overturn the 2020 election. The 45-page indictment says he was ‘determined to remain in power’ despite ‘having lost.’
He and his six co-conspirators ‘used knowingly false claims of election fraud’ to try to ‘subvert the legitimate election results and change electoral votes’ to take down Joe Biden, according to the indictment.
He has plead not guilty.