Proud Boys Leader, Four Members Charged With Seditious Conspiracy

Federal prosecutors accuse Enrique Tarrio and four Proud Boys of planning to block the peaceful transfer of power.
WASHINGTON, DC - DECEMBER 12: Enrique Tarrio, leader of the Proud Boys, stands outside Harry's bar during a protest on December 12, 2020 in Washington, DC. Thousands of protesters who refuse to accept that President-... WASHINGTON, DC - DECEMBER 12: Enrique Tarrio, leader of the Proud Boys, stands outside Harry's bar during a protest on December 12, 2020 in Washington, DC. Thousands of protesters who refuse to accept that President-elect Joe Biden won the election are rallying ahead of the electoral college vote to make Trump's 306-to-232 loss official. (Photo by Stephanie Keith/Getty Images) MORE LESS
Start your day with TPM.
Sign up for the Morning Memo newsletter

A federal grand jury on Monday returned a superseding indictment charging Proud Boys leader Enrique Tarrio with seditious conspiracy over his alleged involvement in the Capitol insurrection.

Four other Proud Boys, including Ethan Nordean, Joseph Biggs, Zachary Rehl, and Dominic Pezzola, were also charged.

The indictment represents the second instance of sedition charges being brought by federal prosecutors in the Jan. 6 investigation, after Oath Keepers leader Stewart Rhodes was charged with the same crime in January 2022.

Prosecutors alleged that Tarrio, after his arrest on Jan. 4, did not “immediately comply” with a court order to leave D.C.

Rather, the indictment reads, Tarrio met with Rhodes, the Oath Keepers leader, in the basement of the capital’s Phoenix Park Hotel.

“During this encounter, a participant referenced the Capitol,” prosecutors wrote.

In addition to seditious conspiracy, prosecutors charged the five with assaulting federal officers, destruction of government property, abetting civil disorder, conspiracy to block government officers from discharging official duties, and obstruction of official proceedings.

The superseding indictment brings two new charges against the group: seditious conspiracy and conspiracy to prevent government officers from discharging official duties.

All had previously been indicted, and have pleaded not guilty to the other charges.

The new charges represent some of the most severe tools in the government’s arsenal for trying to hold those who organized the storming of the Capitol accountable.

Critically, seditious conspiracy charges don’t require direct, firsthand participation in the violence. Tarrio was not physically present on Jan. 6.

Rather, prosecutors alleged that, like the Oath Keepers, Tarrio organized the Proud Boys to prevent the peaceful transfer of power in 2020. It comes with a maximum penalty of 20 years imprisonment.

The indictment remains mostly silent on the prospect of potential collaboration between the two groups. Apart from the much-studied meeting in the parking garage of the Phoenix Park Hotel, prosecutors suggested little in the indictment that would point towards coordination between the two far-right groups.

But that meeting has remained a source of abiding interest, in part because of a documentary film crew which happened to capture a fleeting portion of the encounter.

The new indictment chronicles the Proud Boys’ planning for Jan. 6, repeating much of what the Justice Department has already alleged while also adding new details.

On the evening of Jan. 6, after law enforcement had largely cleared the Capitol building, federal prosecutors said that Tarrio and others celebrated.

“Brother. You know we made this happen,” reads one message to Tarrio from an unidentified person. “I’m so proud of my country today.”

“1776 motherfuckers,” the person added.

Tarrio purportedly replied: “The Winter Palace.”

The exchange did not appear in the earlier indictment.

The pair’s texts purportedly began at 7:39 p.m.. That, prosecutors pointedly wrote, came before the Senate resumed its process of formalizing Biden’s win.

“Dude,” wrote the unidentified person to Tarrio. “Did we just influence history?”

Tarrio appears to have considered that, and replied: “Let’s first see how this plays out.”

The unidentified person replied: “They HAVE to certify today! Or it’s invalid.”

Minutes later, the Senate returned to the chamber and, after several hours, finished certifying Biden’s win.

Read the superseding indictment here:

Latest News
Masthead Masthead
Founder & Editor-in-Chief:
Executive Editor:
Managing Editor:
Associate Editor:
Editor at Large:
General Counsel:
Head of Product:
Director of Technology:
Associate Publisher:
Front End Developer:
Senior Designer: