A federal grand jury returned a new indictment on seditious conspiracy charges Monday against five accused Proud Boys leaders – upping the ante in one of the Justice Department’s most high-profile Jan. 6 cases.
The five defendants in the case – Ethan Nordean, Joseph Biggs, Zachary Rehl, Dominic Pezzola, and former Proud Boys chairman Enrique Tarrio – were all previously facing charges of conspiracy and obstruction of an official proceeding. Nordean, Biggs, Rehl and a fourth defendant, Charles Donohoe, were indicted last March. Pezzola, who was charged separately a week after the Capitol riot, and Tarrio were added to the case in March. Donohoe pleaded guilty in April to two counts of conspiracy to obstruct an official proceeding and assaulting a federal officer.
In the new indictment, prosecutors accuse the men of conspiring to forcefully “prevent, hinder and delay” laws governing the transfer of power, including the 12th Amendment. Seditious conspiracy, like the two previous counts of conspiracy and obstruction of an official proceeding the men also face, carries a maximum sentence of up to 20 years in prison.
In the indictment and previously filed court documents, prosecutors say Nordean, Biggs, Rehl and other defendants repeatedly discussed their desire for violent conflict if former President Donald Trump lost the election. In one message posted on social media two days after the election, Biggs allegedly wrote, “It’s time for f***ing War if they steal this s***.” In another post, Nordean allegedly wrote, “The spirit of 1776 has resurfaced.”
Prosecutors allege on Jan. 6, Tarrio – who was not in D.C. at the time because of an arrest on weapons charges but is accused of coordinating Proud Boy operations remotely – had a nine-page document titled “1776 Returns” laying out a plan to occupy “crucial buildings” in D.C.
Monday’s indictment brings the total number of Jan. 6 defendants charged with seditious conspiracy to 16. In January, 11 members of the Oath Keepers, including founder Stewart Rhodes, were indicted on the same charge. Three Oath Keepers charged with sedition – Joshua James, Brian Ulrich and William Todd Wilson – have since pleaded guilty to the charge and agreed to cooperate against their former co-defendants.