Proud Boys leader gets 22 years, others involved in Jan. 6 receive lengthy sentences

by Josh Cohen

Photo: Alamy

Former Proud Boys leader Enrique Tarrio was sentenced to 22 years in prison for his role in events of Jan. 6, 2021, at the U.S. Capitol, according to Politico

This comes as part of a series of legal proceedings involving members of the far-right group.

To date, nearly 1,100 individuals have reportedly been arrested in connection with the Jan. 6 event, with over 300 already serving prison sentences. Arrests continue more than 30 months after Jan. 6.

Tarrio’s sentencing marks the conclusion of legal proceedings against a group of Proud Boys convicted of seditious conspiracy in May. Notably, his sentence is the longest among all defendants tied to the Jan. 6 events.

Politico went on to report that Tarrio, the former chair of the Proud Boys, received a 22-year prison sentence for orchestrating a seditious conspiracy to maintain then-President Donald Trump in power. Tarrio had been in custody since his arrest in February 2022. Prosecutors initially sought a 33-year prison term for him.

It is important to note that Tarrio was not physically present at the Capitol on Jan. 6 due to a court order barring him from entering Washington stemming from prior charges related to setting fire to a Black Lives Matter banner. Nonetheless, prosecutors argued that Tarrio continued to influence his followers remotely, encouraging them to remain at the Capitol, according to Politico.

Stewart Rhodes, the leader of the far-right Oath Keepers, received an 18-year prison sentence for seditious conspiracy, as outlined by Politico. Prosecutors asserted that Rhodes had orchestrated an extended effort to disrupt the transition of power from Trump to Joe Biden, leading to the mobilization of numerous allies to converge on Washington on Jan 6. Rhodes was convicted in November. Joining Rhodes in sentencing, Kelly Meggs, the Florida chapter leader of the Oath Keepers, received a 12-year prison term, the outlet also reported.

The same Politico report continued that Joe Biggs, a Florida leader of the Proud Boys on Jan 6, was sentenced to 17 years in prison for conspiring to obstruct the peaceful transfer of power, according to Politico. Prosecutors initially sought a 33-year sentence for him.

Prosecutors maintained that Biggs played a significant role in the violence on January 6 by facilitating breaches at police lines and aiding the crowd’s advance into the Capitol. Politico went on to report that Biggs, an Army veteran who previously suffered a head injury in Iraq, later worked as a correspondent for the conspiracy website InfoWars.

It was further reported by Reuters that Zach Rehl, another Proud Boys leader, was sentenced to 15 years in prison alongside Biggs for conspiring to obstruct the peaceful transfer of power. Prosecutors initially aimed for a 30-year sentence for Rehl. Video evidence showed Rehl deploying a chemical irritant at police officers outside the Capitol that day, and he subsequently lied about the assault during his testimony. Additionally, Rehl led at least three other individuals into the Capitol and a senator’s office for photos and smoking.

Reuters then went on to report that Daniel “D.J.” Rodriguez, who deployed a stun gun on a police officer’s neck at the Capitol, was sentenced to 12 years in prison in June. Footage from former D.C. Police Officer Michael Fanone’s body camera showed the officer screaming in pain after Rodriguez shocked him with the stun gun. Rodriguez also deployed a fire extinguisher at police officers and shoved a wooden pole at the police line. As Rodriguez was escorted out of the courtroom after his sentencing, he shouted, “Trump won!”

Lastly, according to Reuters, Thomas Webster, a retired New York City police officer who assaulted a D.C. officer during the Capitol riot, was sentenced to 10 years in prison last week. Webster was the first defendant to present a self-defense argument, which the jury ultimately rejected due to his actions in tackling a D.C. officer and seizing his gas mask. Webster has expressed regret about his participation in the events of Jan 6.

According to USA Today, the Justice Department has also joined the legal fray, appealing Oath Keeper sentences as too short. Legal experts emphasize that it’s common for defendants to appeal their sentences in nearly every case, but prosecutors seldom appeal sentences because judges have significant leeway in crafting sentences, following the 2005 Supreme Court decision in Booker v. U.S., which made sentencing guidelines advisory rather than mandatory.

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