US Capitol attack: Proud Boys leader gets 18 years in prison, far too long

WASHINGTON, Sept 1 (Reuters) – A leader of the far-right Proud Boys was sentenced on Friday to 18 years in prison in connection with the U.S. Capitol attack, the longest sentence so far in the case, while another member was sentenced to 10 years in prison. “Trump won” when he left the court.

This couple, Jan. 6, 2021, are the latest members of far-right groups to be convicted of participating in an attack on Congress in an attempt to reverse Donald Trump’s election defeat.

Ethan Nordien, the leader of the Proud Boys, was sentenced to 18 years in prison for conspiracy to commit treason, while prosecutors sought 27 years for Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes in May.

“If we don’t have a peaceful transition of power in this country, we don’t have anything,” said U.S. District Judge Timothy Kelly.

In a statement to the judge, Nordien called Jan. 6 a “complete and utter tragedy” and said he went to the Capitol to be a leader and keep people out of trouble. His wife and sister pleaded for mercy.

Nordian’s lawyer, Nick Smith, argued for a sentence of 15 to 21 months.

Dominic Pesola, a member of the Proud Boys, did not play a leading role, but was convicted of crimes including obstruction of official action and assaulting police. Trump won! He walked out of court after being sentenced to 10 years in prison.

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Pesola’s attack on former Capitol Police officer Mark Ott, in which he stole Ott’s riot gear and used it to smash a window in the Capitol, helped justify a lengthy prison sentence.

Pesola’s lawyers asked for their client to be sentenced to about five years in prison. Steven Metcalf, one of Pezzola’s attorneys, told the judge that Pezzola got caught up in the “heat of the moment.”

“I stand before you with a contrite heart,” Pesola said in an emotional speech to the court. “I should never have crossed the barrier in the Capitol that day.”

Prosecutors had sought 20 years in prison for Pesola.

Thousands of Trump supporters stormed the Capitol following a speech in which the then-Republican president falsely claimed the November 2020 election loss was the result of widespread fraud. Trump has continued to make those false claims even as he leads the 2024 Republican nomination to challenge Democratic President Joe Biden.

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

1,100 people have been arrested on charges related to the capital attack. Of those, more than 630 have pleaded guilty and at least 110 have been convicted at trial.

Sarah N. in Washington. Reporting by Lynch and Mahiny Price; Editing by Scott Malone, Grant McCool, Jonathan Otis and Cynthia Osterman

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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Sarah N. Lynch is Reuters’ lead reporter covering the U.S. Justice Department outside Washington, D.C. During her time at the Beatle, she covered everything from the aftermath of the George Floyd protests to the Mueller report and the use of federal agents to suppress protesters. The department’s cases follow the murder, the widespread spread of COVID-19 in prisons and the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol.

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