The leader of the far-right Proud Boys group and four associates have been charged with seditious conspiracy related to the Jan. 6, 2021 attack that was intended to block Congress from certifying the results of the 2020 election, the Justice Department said on Monday.
A federal grand jury in Washington also charged them with conspiring to prevent an officer from discharging any duties.
It’s the second group tied to the deadly siege on the U.S. Capitol to face the rare and serious charge of conspiring to overthrow the government or prevent the execution of U.S. law. Eleven members of the Oath Keepers group, including leader Stewart Rhodes, were charged with seditious conspiracy earlier this year.
Proud Boy leader Enrique Tarrio wasn’t on the Capitol grounds during the insurrection, but prosecutors say he helped coordinate the violent effort to disrupt the electoral count that day. As the violence unfolded, Tarrio allegedly posted “Proud of my boys and my country” on social media.
Tarrio was already arrested in March for his alleged role in planning the attack. Besides Tarrio, Ethan Nordean, Joseph Biggs, Zachary Rehl and Dominic Pezzola were charged.
All five men faced previous federal charges related to the insurrection. The latest two bring their tallies up to nine, according to the Justice Department. Pezzalo has also been charged with robbery.
They have been detained and pleaded not guilty. The five are scheduled for a hearing on June 9, the same day that the House select committee investigating the deadly riot will hold its first public hearing on what it has found so far.
The new indictment, handed down Monday by a federal grand jury in Washington, D.C., doesn’t appear to contain explosive new details about the riot or the planning.
But in one passage, the court filing quotes correspondence from a private messaging group for the Proud Boys on the evening of Jan. 6. “Dude, did we just influence history?” an unnamed person texted Tarrio at 7:39 p.m. Tarrio replied, “Let’s first see how this plays out.” The Senate returned around 8 p.m. that evening to resume the certification process.