Monday, August 15, 2022 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Proud Boys leader Enrique Tarrio will stay jailed for Capitol riot trial

Prosecutors argued for Tarrio's pretrial detainment by highlighting the seriousness of his alleged role as the leader of a conspiracy to obstruct Congress on Jan. 6, 2021.

(CN) — A federal magistrate refused Tuesday to let the leader of the right-wing extremist group the Proud Boys out of jail pending his trial over last year‘s riot at the U.S. Capitol.

Prosecutors secured the ruling to keep Enrique Tarrio in custody by highlighting the gravity of allegations that he led the conspiracy to overthrow America’s government on Jan. 6, 2021, while a joint session of Congress was underway to certify the results of the 2020 election.

“It is difficult to imagine conduct that poses a graver risk to our society than leading a conspiracy targeted at corruptly undermining the laws and procedures at the heart of our democratic process,” prosecutors wrote in one memo.

“And based on Tarrio’s public comments aimed at chilling witnesses against his coconspirators, as well as his own purported efforts to evade law enforcement, he poses a risk of obstructing justice should he be released.”

A Justice Department spokesperson told Courthouse News that U.S. Magistrate Judge Lauren Louis is planning to issue a written ruling sometime on Tuesday. Tarrio is charged in Washington, as is the case with most other capital riot defendants, but his custody hearing this morning occurred in Miami where he was arrested a week earlier.

The superseding indictment against Tarrio, 38, charges him and five other members of the Proud Boys with conspiring to obstruct Congress. Tarrio and Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes are two of the highest-profile people to be charged in connection with the Capitol riot.

Although Tarrio did not physically breach the Capitol building, the indictment says Tarrio “led the advance planning and remained in contact with other members of the Proud Boys during their breach of the Capitol.”

Two days before the insurrection, Tarrio was arrested on Jan. 4 and charged with destruction of property related to his burning of a Black Lives Matter banner during a rally in Washington by supporters of former President Donald Trump.

After he pleaded guilty to burning the banner and to attempted possession of a high-capacity ammunition magazine, Tarrio was released on the eve of Jan. 6 and court-ordered to stay out of Washington.

“The indictment alleges that Tarrio nonetheless continued to direct and encourage the Proud Boys prior to and during the events of Jan. 6, 2021, and that he claimed credit for what had happened on social media and in an encrypted chat room during and after the attack,” the Justice Department said in a press release last week.

Prosecutors also claim Tarrio did not immediately comply with the court order to stay out of Washington following his arrest.

According to court documents, Tarrio went to an underground parking garage in Washington after he was released. There he met for about 30 minutes with a group of people including Rhodes, who is also charged with conspiracy in connection with the riot.

A documentary film crew was reportedly in the garage at the same time and picked up audio of a person referencing the Capitol. Tarrio allegedly discussed deleting messages on his phone before he was arrested and said nobody could access his phone because there were “two steps” to get into it. 

After the meeting, prosecutors say, Tarrio traveled to Baltimore where he used his associates’ phones to assure people that his phone was not compromised when he was arrested on Jan. 4.

Tarrio's latest indictment charges him with one count of conspiracy to obstruct an official proceeding, one count of obstruction of an official proceeding, and two counts each of assaulting, resisting or impeding certain officers and destruction of government property.

Also named in the superseding indictment are Ethan Nordean, 31, of Auburn, Washington; Joseph Biggs, 38, of Ormond Beach, Florida; Zachary Rehl, 36, of Philadelphia; Charles Donohoe, 34, of Kernersville, North Carolina; and Dominic Pezzola, 44, of Rochester, New York. 

Tarrio's court-appointed attorney Nayib Hassan did not respond to a request for comment sent Tuesday.

To date, more than 750 people have been charged in connection with the Capitol riot. 

As of last Thursday, approximately 195 people have pleaded guilty to misdemeanors, 29 have pleaded guilty to felonies, and at least six have been sentenced to prison.

Read the Top 8

Sign up for the Top 8, a roundup of the day's top stories delivered directly to your inbox Monday through Friday.

Loading
Loading...