(Ken Silva, Headline USA) After a nearly four-month trial mired in controversy, former Proud Boys leader Enrique Tarrio and three other members of the right-wing group were convicted Thursday of a plot to attack the U.S. Capitol to keep Donald Trump in power after the 2020 presidential election.
A jury in Washington, D.C., found Tarrio guilty of seditious conspiracy after hearing from dozens of witnesses in a trial that was largely closed to the public—the courtroom was open, but no phonelines were available for reporters to listen in on the proceedings.
Tarrio, behind bars since his March 2022 arrest, didn’t appear to show any emotion as the verdict was read, according to the Associated Press. He reportedly hugged one of his lawyers and shook the hand of the other before leaving the courtroom. A few of the people sitting among the defendants’ relatives wiped away tears as the verdict was read, the AP reported.
The verdict comes after a trial that took more than twice as long as originally expected, slowed by numerous instances of government misconduct.
In February it was revealed that the Proud Boys hadn’t actually created their alleged blueprint for storming the Capitol. Rather, a tech entrepreneur with connections to the national security state created the “1776 Returns” document and passed it on to someone else, who gave it to the Proud Boys.
Weeks later, former Fox News host Tucker Carlson released footage of the Jan. 6 incident, showing “QAnon Shaman” Jacob Chansley walking calmly through the halls of the Capitol with two Capitol Police officers. At one point, one of the officers appears to try opening a door or elevator, and then turns and leads Chansley in another direction—actions Proud Boys tried to use as evidence to show they didn’t violently breach the Capitol.
Still more misconduct was revealed in late March, when defense lawyers discovered that someone close to them was an FBI informant.
But despite these and other examples of misconduct—and despite there were allegedly at least 50 undercover law enforcers or informants in the Jan. 6 crowd—the presiding judge denied every motion for redress filed by the defense.
And Tarrio was convicted despite not being in Washington on Jan. 6, because he had been arrested two days earlier in a separate case and ordered out of the capital city. But prosecutors said he organized and directed the attack by Proud Boys who stormed the Capitol that day.
In addition to Tarrio, a Miami resident, three other Proud Boys were convicted of seditious conspiracy: Ethan Nordean, Joseph Biggs and Zachary Rehl.
Jurors have not yet reached a unanimous verdict on the sedition charge for fifth defendant: Dominic Pezzola, a new member who hadn’t spoken to the other defendants until after the charges were filed. Pezzola, however, was convicted of other serious charges.
Tarrio, Nordean, Biggs and Rehl were also convicted of obstructing Congress’ certification of Biden’s electoral victory and obstructing law enforcement as well as two other conspiracy charges. The four were cleared of an assault charge stemming from Pezzola, who stole an officer’s riot shield.
The judge told jurors to keep deliberating on a few remaining counts where they haven’t reached agreement.
Rehl’s attorney, Carmen Hernandez, said her client “continues to maintain his innocence.” Lawyers for Biggs and Pezzola declined to comment. An attorney for Tarrio declined to comment.
Prosecutors told jurors the group viewed itself as “Trump’s army” and was prepared for “all-out war” to stop Biden from becoming president.
The Justice Department has yet to disclose how much prison time it will seek when the Oath Keepers are sentenced later this month.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Ken Silva is a staff writer at Headline USA. Follow him at twitter.com/jd_cashless.