(Bloomberg) -- Henry “Enrique” Tarrio, the former chairman of the far-right Proud Boys, was ordered to serve 22 years in prison for his role in a seditious plot to halt the US government’s peaceful transfer of power, the stiffest punishment so far for those involved in the attack on the nation’s Capitol.
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Tarrio, 39, was sentenced Tuesday by US District Judge Timothy Kelly in Washington. Previously, the longest sentence among more than 1,100 prosecutions tied to the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol riot was 18 years for Oath Keepers leader Stewart Rhodes and for another Proud Boys leader, Ethan Nordean.
Federal prosecutors had sought a 33-year prison term for Tarrio. He was convicted in May along with three others of seditious conspiracy for their efforts to prevent Congress from approving the 2020 election win by President Joe Biden, which culminated in a mob of former President Donald Trump’s supporters storming the Capitol.
The Proud Boys defendants played “important roles in breach after breach after breach” by the mob at the Capitol, Kelly said. “Seditious conspiracy is a serious offense. Mr. Tarrio was the ultimate leader of that conspiracy. I don’t really think this is super debatable.”
The attack on Jan. 6 “physically damaged property and hurt people,” and interrupted the nation’s long history of a peaceful transition of power, the judge said. “That previously unbroken tradition is broken now and it is going to take time and effort to fix it.”
Last week, other Proud Boys who were convicted along with Tarrio were ordered to serve long periods behind bars, including Nordean. Joseph Biggs got 17 years, Zachary Rehl must serve 15 years, and Dominic Pezzola was sentenced to 10 years, court records show.
Proud Boys ‘General’
The government argued Tarrio deserved a lengthy sentence because of his “clear leadership role” on Jan. 6, 2021, when he acted as a “general rather than a soldier.” While he wasn’t at the Capitol, Tarrio communicated with others who entered the building, prosecutors said. “Proud Of My Boys and my country,” Tarrio wrote in a social media post at the time.
Prosecutor Conor Mulroe told the judge Tarrio’s leadership over the group was about “violence and manipulation.” He directed members to bring gear, ordered them not to wear colors, called them to Washington and congratulated them for their actions that day, Mulroe said. “The actions of that group were absolutely pivotal to what happened on Jan. 6,” he said.
In a sometimes tearful statement to the judge before he was sentenced, Tarrio said he was sorry for the events of Jan. 6, especially because Capitol police were injured during the riot.
“I am extremely ashamed and disappointed that they were caused suffering,” Tarrio said. “I failed miserably. This trial has humbled me. These police officers deserved better.”
Tarrio said he’d been selfish and was “my own worst enemy.” He added, “When I get back home I want nothing to do with politics, groups or rallies.”
Tarrio’s attorneys had pushed back on the government’s request for a terrorism enhancement, which would boost his recommended sentence to 30 years from 14 years.
Defense lawyer Sabino Jauregui called Tarrio “a misguided patriot,” not a terrorist, who “was trying to protect this country.”
The judge wasn’t convinced. “Mr. Tarrio on many occasions before today expressed no remorse on what happened that day,” Kelly said. “I don’t have any indication he is remorseful for the actual things he was convicted of.”
The case is US v. Nordean et al, 21-cr-00175, US District Court, District of Columbia (Washington).
(Updates with comment from judge, table of major sentences for Jan. 6 defendants.)
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