The former leader of the far-right Proud Boys militia has been jailed for 22 years for his role in planning the 6 January 2021 assault on the US Capitol as supporters of President Donald Trump tried to overturn his election defeat.
Enrique Tarrio, 39, was convicted on charges including seditious conspiracy over the attack, which saw supporters of Mr Trump storm Congress in a bid to stop lawmakers from certifying Joe Biden’s election victory.
Judge Timothy Kelly, a Trump appointee, on Tuesday rejected pleas from Tarrio’s defence team seeking to contest a “terrorism adjustment” for sentencing, increasing the recommended sentence under federal guidelines.
Tarrio’s lawyers had attempted to portray him as a “misguided patriot” as they sought a sentence of “no greater than 15 years” but prosecutors, seeking to put him behind bars for 33 years, said he was “the leader of this conspiracy” and played a “central role” in planning the attack.
Tarrio, who had been arrested two days prior to 6 January in a separate case, was not physically present with the Proud Boys at the time — but prosecutors say he helped put in motion and encourage the violence that stunned the world and interrupted Congress’ certification of Biden’s electoral victory.
“Tarrio has repeatedly and publicly indicated that he has no regrets about what he helped make happen on January 6,” prosecutors wrote in court documents.
“Make no mistake,” Tarrio wrote in one message after the insurrection. “We did this.”
Addressing the court before his sentencing, however, Tarrio said he had been “humbled” and felt “shame and disappointment” – adding: “What happened on January 6 was a national embarrassment.”
The judge said there was no indication that Tarrio was remorseful for the specific charge of seditious conspiracy, but said he would grant him some leniency as “I don’t think Mr Tarrio intended to kill anyone”.
The sentence is the longest handed out in connection with the 6 January attacks.
Ethan Nordean, who prosecutors said was the Proud Boys’ leader on the ground on 6 January, was last week sentenced to 18 years in prison, tying the record for the longest sentence in the attack.
Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes, who was found guilty of seditious conspiracy in a separate case, was sentenced in May to 18 years in prison. Prosecutors, who had sought 25 years for Rhodes, are appealing his sentence and the punishments of other members of his antigovernment militia group.
Lawyers for the Proud Boys deny that there was any plot to attack the Capitol or stop the transfer of presidential power. Tarrio’s lawyer, Sabino Jauregui, told the judge that his client had no intentions of overthrowing the government, and that the Proud Boys’ only plans that day were to protest the election and confront antifa activists.
More than 1,100 people have been arrested on charges related to the Capitol assault, and of those at least 630 have pleaded guilty and at least 110 have been convicted at trial. 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.
Special Counsel Jack Smith, who was tapped to investigate broader efforts to overturn the 2020 election, has since charged Trump, the front-runner for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination, for trying to keep himself in power.