DOJ Says 22 Years is Not Enough. Appeals Sentences of Proud Boys Leaders

DOJ prosecutors demand longer jail sentences for Proud Boys members (Image Midjourney)

The United States Justice Department has launched an appeal against the prison sentences handed down to four leaders of the Proud Boys, who were convicted of seditious conspiracy in connection with the January 6th U.S. Capitol attack.

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According to court documents, the appeal challenges sentences notably shorter than prosecutors had originally sought.

U.S. District Judge Timothy Kelly presided over the case and sentenced former Proud Boys national leader Enrique Tarrio and three lieutenants to prison terms ranging from 15 to 22 years.

Their convictions stemmed from a May trial, during which they were found guilty of plotting to obstruct the peaceful transfer of presidential power from Donald Trump to Joe Biden following the 2020 presidential election.

Notably, Tarrio’s 22-year sentence stands as the longest among the hundreds of criminal cases linked to the January 6th riot at the U.S. Capitol. However, prosecutors had initially sought a harsher penalty of 33 years behind bars for Tarrio, a Miami resident.

Responding to the appeal, Attorney Nayib Hassan stated via email to the Associated Press that the defense team plans to review the prosecutors’ reasoning but is also preparing its own appeal, expressing confidence that they will succeed “on multiple grounds.”

Prosecutors filed their appeal on Monday and originally recommended sentences of 33 years for former Proud Boys organizer Joseph Biggs, 30 years for Proud Boys chapter leader Zachary Rehl, and 27 years in prison for chapter leader Ethan Nordean. Judge Kelly, however, imposed shorter sentences of 18 years for Nordean, 17 years for Biggs, and 15 years for Rehl.

In reaction to the government’s appeal, defense attorney Norm Pattis, who represents Biggs and Rehl, derided it as “ridiculous” and quipped, “Merrick Garland needs a new hobby horse,” referring to the U.S. Attorney General whose Justice Department secured these convictions.

Nicholas Smith, attorney for Ethan Nordean, expressed his client’s encouragement with the government’s acknowledgment of errors in his case that led to the judgment and sentence.

Additionally, the Justice Department is also appealing the 10-year sentence handed down to Dominic Pezzola, a Proud Boys member from Rochester, New York, who was tried alongside the four group leaders.

While jurors acquitted Pezzola of seditious conspiracy, they convicted him of other serious charges. Prosecutors had initially sought a 20-year prison term.

This appeal follows the ongoing legal battle surrounding Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes, who received an 18-year sentence for involvement in a separate January 6th case. Prosecutors had requested 25 years for Rhodes.

In related news, a member of the Proud Boys pled guilty on Monday to obstructing the January 6th joint session of Congress tasked with certifying Joe Biden’s victory over Donald Trump.

William Chrestman, 49, of Olathe, Kansas, also admitted to threatening to assault a federal officer during the Capitol riot. Chrestman will be sentenced by Judge Kelly on January 12th, with estimated sentencing guidelines suggesting a prison term ranging from four years and three months to five years and three months.

During the January 6th incident, Chrestman was equipped with an axe handle, gas mask, helmet, and tactical gear when he traveled to Washington, D.C., with fellow Proud Boys members.

He was among the crowd that breached barricades and confronted police officers, shouting threats and urging others to resist arrest.

More than 1,100 individuals have been charged with federal crimes related to the Capitol riot, with approximately 60 of them identified as Proud Boys leaders, members, or associates.


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