Philadelphia Proud Boys Leader Convicted of Seditious Conspiracy in Jan. 6 Attack

FILE - Proud Boys members Zachary Rehl, left, and Ethan Nordean, left, walk toward the U.S. Capitol in Washington, in support of President Donald Trump on Jan. 6, 2021. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster, File)

By Associated Press

May 4, 2023

Zachary Rehl could face more than 20 years in prison after being convicted of attempting to overthrow the government by participating in the attack that was a desperate bid to keep Donald Trump in power after the 2020 election.

Former Proud Boys leader Enrique Tarrio and three other members of the far-right extremist group, including Philadelphia chapter president Zachary Rehl, were convicted Thursday of a plot to attack the US Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021 

A jury in Washington, D.C., found them guilty of seditious conspiracy after hearing from dozens of witnesses over more than three months in one of the most serious cases brought in the Jan. 6 attack, a desperate bid to keep Donald Trump in power after the Republican lost the 2020 presidential election.

In addition to Rehl and Tarrio, two other Proud Boys were convicted of seditious conspiracy: Ethan Nordean and Joseph Biggs.

The seditious conspiracy charge carries a prison sentence of up to 20 years.

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 another co-defendant, Dominic Pezzola, who stole an officer’s riot shield. Pezzola was cleared of the sedition charge.

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 Proud Boys were “lined up behind Donald Trump and willing to commit violence on his behalf,” prosecutor Conor Mulroe said in his closing argument.

The backbone of the government’s case was hundreds of messages exchanged by Proud Boys in the days leading up to Jan. 6 that show the far-right extremist group peddling Trump’s false claims of a stolen election and trading fears over what would happen when Biden took office.

As Proud Boys swarmed the Capitol, Tarrio cheered them on from afar, writing on social media: “Do what must be done.” In a Proud Boys encrypted group chat later that day someone asked what they should do next. Tarrio responded: “Do it again.”

“Make no mistake,” Tarrio wrote in another message. “We did this.”

In the rarely used Civil War-era seditious conspiracy charges, prosecutors have to prove that two or more people conspired to “overthrow, put down or to destroy by force” the U.S. government or bring war against it, or that they plotted to use force to oppose the authority of the government or to block the execution of a law. 

In this case, the co-defendants were accused of conspiring to block the transfer of power from Trump to Biden. The indictment alleged that they conspired to forcibly oppose the authority of the federal government and to use force to prevent the execution of laws having to do with the transfer of power.

Keystone senior community manager Patrick Berkery contributed to this report.


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