Proud Boys leader Tarrio, 4 top lieutenants charged with seditious conspiracy in Jan. 6 capitol attack

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Henry “Enrique” Tarrio, longtime chairman of the extremist group Proud Boys, was indicted on a new federal charge of seditious conspiracy with four top lieutenants on Monday. The charges expand the Justice Department’s allegations of an organized plot to unleash political violence to prevent the confirmation of President Biden’s election victory on Jan. 6, 2021, when a pro-Trump mob attacked the US Capitol.

Tarrio, 38, was not in Washington that day, but allegedly guided the group’s activities from nearby Maryland as Proud Boys members engaged in the earliest and most aggressive attacks to confront and overwhelm police at several critical points on restricted Capitol grounds. One co-defendant, Dominic Pezzola, of Rochester, NY, broke through the first window of the building at 2:13 pm with a stolen police riot shield, authorities said.

A new 10-count superseding indictment returned Monday morning charges Tarrio, Pezzola and three other existing co-defendants — Ethan Nordean, of Seattle, Joe Biggs, of the Daytona Beach area, and Zachary Rehl, of Philadelphia — with coordinating travel to Washington and the movements of the group around the Capitol that day. The group is also accused of plotting to foment a riot and storm Congress, action that eventually forced the evacuation of lawmakers meeting to confirm the 2020 election results.

Federal prosecutors previously leveled the historically rare charge of seditious conspiracy for the first time in the Jan. 6 attack against the founder and leader of the extremist group Oath Keepers, Stewart Rhodes, and 10 associates. Since filing the charges in January, a year after the mob violence, two of Rhodes’s co-defendants and one other Oath Keeper member have pleaded guilty to the charge and are cooperating with the Justice Department: Joshua James, 34, of Alabama, Brian Ulrich , 44, of Georgia, and William Todd Wilson, 44, of North Carolina.

But the new charges show that prosecutors are pulling together a wider picture of organization within extremist groups that shared overlapping if not common goals.

At the same time, the deepening criminal investigation has exposed hints of coordination among groups, even as the FBI and Justice Department are expanding their probe into the ranks of former President Donald Trump’s political orbit. The House Select Committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack is expected to shine a spotlight on such connections in public hearings beginning Thursday.

Newly released videos show Proud Boys leader Enrique Tarrio meeting Oath Keepers leader Stewart Rhodes the day before the attack on the Capitol. (Video: US Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia)

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