Auburn member of Proud Boys found guilty in Jan. 6 trial

May 4, 2023, 9:29 AM | Updated: May 10, 2023, 9:59 am

Jan. 6 riots...

Protesters clash with police in the Jan. 6 capitol riots. (Associated Press)

(Associated Press)

Update 5/4:

An Auburn man – and three other leaders of the “Proud Boys” have been convicted of one of the most serious crimes in the January attack on the U.S. Capitol: “seditious conspiracy.”

Prosecutors say Ethan Nordeen was among those who organized the attack in an attempt to keep Donald Trump president.

A fifth suspect was not convicted of “seditious conspiracy,” but he – along with the others – was found guilty of obstruction.

All face up to 20 years in prison.

Original 4/10:

Closing arguments are expected this week as an Auburn man awaits his verdict in the Proud Boys seditious conspiracy trial.

A jury will decide whether five members of the Proud Boys are guilty of organizing the Jan. 6 insurrection. The trial began nearly three months ago for members of the extremist group, including Ethan Nordean of Auburn.

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Proud Boys National Chairman Enrique Tarrio and four lieutenants are accused of seditious conspiracy for what prosecutors said was a plot to forcibly stop the transfer of presidential power from Donald Trump to Joe Biden after the 2020 election.

A guilty verdict against Tarrio, who wasn’t even in Washington, D.C., when the riot erupted, would affirm that those accused of planning and inciting the violence could be held responsible even if they didn’t join in it.

On trial with Tarrio and Nordean are Proud Boys Chapter Leaders Zachary Rehl of Philadelphia, self-described Proud Boys Organizer Joseph Biggs of Ormond Beach, Florida, and Dominic Pezzola, a Proud Boys member from Rochester, NY.

It is unclear if any of them will testify before the defense rests and jurors hear the attorneys’ closing arguments.

The backbone of the government’s case is a group of messages that Proud Boys leaders privately exchanged on the Telegram platform before, during, and after the Capitol riot.

“If Biden steals this election, [the Proud Boys] will be political prisoners,” Tarrio posted Nov. 16, 2020. “We won’t go quietly … I promise.”

As the mob attacked the Capitol building, Tarrio posted on social media, “Don’t (expletive) leave.”

When a Proud Boys member asked, “Are we a militia yet?” Tarrio responded with one word — “Yep” — in a voice note.

“Make no mistake,” Tarrio wrote. “We did this.”

Defense attorneys have argued that there is no evidence of a plan for the Proud Boys to attack the Capitol on Jan. 6.

They have stressed that Proud Boys had FBI informants in their ranks who didn’t raise any red flags about the group before Jan. 6. In an effort to show jurors that Tarrio was trying to avoid violence, they also showed how Tarrio frequently communicated with an officer assigned to monitor extremist groups’ activity in Washington and advised the officer of the group’s plans in the weeks before Jan. 6.

Among the Proud Boys defendants, only Pezzola is accused of engaging in violence or destruction after being filmed smashing a Capitol window with a riot shield.

The prosecutors in the Proud Boys case have instead argued that Tarrio and the others handpicked and mobilized a loyal group of foot soldiers — or “tools” — to supply the force necessary to carry out their plot.

Jurors saw a video of the 2020 presidential debate at which Trump told the Proud Boys to “stand back and stand by,” a moment that led to an explosion of attention and membership requests.

Ex-member: Proud Boys failed to carry out ‘revolution’

“These men did not stand back. They did not stand by. Instead, they mobilized,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Jason McCullough told jurors.

The trial was briefly disrupted when prosecutors told defense attorneys that a woman expected to testify for Tarrio’s defense had secretly worked as an FBI informant after the Jan. 6 attack. Defense attorneys were alarmed because the woman had been in touch with the defense team, but prosecutors said the informant was never told to gather information about the defendants or their lawyers. Tarrio’s lawyers ultimately decided not to call her as a witness.

The Associated Press contributed to this story

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Auburn member of Proud Boys found guilty in Jan. 6 trial