Two Proud Boys given long jail terms for Capitol attack


A leader of the far-right Proud Boys has been sentenced to 18 years in prison while another member got 10 years for their roles in the January 6, 2021, assault on the US Capitol by supporters of Donald Trump.

Ethan Nordean, one of the group's leaders, was sentenced to 18 years in prison, short of what prosecutors had sought. Nordean had been convicted of seditious conspiracy and other crimes.

"If we don't have a peaceful transfer of power in this country, we don't have anything," said US District Judge Timothy Kelly.

In a statement to the judge, Nordean called January 6 a "complete and utter tragedy" and said he had gone to the Capitol to be a leader and to keep people out of trouble.

"While it is true that I wholeheartedly regret what I did that day, what I regret more is not being a better leader," he said.

Nordean's lawyer, Nick Smith, had argued for a sentence within the range of 15 to 21 months.

Earlier on Friday, Dominic Pezzola, a member of the group who did not play a leadership role and the only defendant of five to be acquitted of seditious conspiracy, yelled, "Trump won!" as he left the courtroom following his own sentencing.

Pezzola was sentenced to 10 years in prison after a jury convicted him of other felonies, including obstructing an official proceeding and assaulting police.

Although Pezzola was found not guilty of sedition, prosecutors said his assault on former Capitol Police Officer Mark Ode, in which he stole Ode's riot shield and used it to smash at a window at the Capitol, helped to justify a lengthy prison term.

Pezzola's lawyer had asked for their client to be sentenced to around five years in prison, and said in their sentencing memo that he had already served about three years awaiting trial. Steven Metcalf, one of Pezzola's lawyers, told the judge that Pezzola was caught in the "heat of the moment."

"I stand before you with a heart full of regret," Pezzola said in an emotional speech before the judge, in which he apologised to Ode and directed rueful comments to his wife and two daughters. "I never should've crossed the barrier at the Capitol that day."

The government had sought a 20-year prison term for Pezzola and a 27-year term for Nordean.

Kelly on Thursday ordered two other former Proud Boys leaders, Joseph Biggs and Zachary Rehl, to serve 17 years and 15 years in prison, respectively.

Thousands of Trump supporters attacked the Capitol following a speech in which the Republican falsely claimed that his November 2020 election defeat was the result of widespread fraud. Trump has continued to make those false claims even as he leads the Republican race for the 2024 nomination to challenge Democratic President Joe Biden.

Five people including a police officer died during or shortly after the riot and more than 140 police officers were injured. The Capitol suffered millions of dollars in damage.

More than 1100 people have been arrested on charges related to the Capitol assault. Of those, more than 630 have pleaded guilty and at least 110 have been convicted at trial.

Former Proud Boys Chairman Enrique Tarrio will be sentenced on September 5. The government is asking for a 33-year sentence.