A prominent leader of the far-right group Proud Boys was handed an 18-year prison sentence on Friday, marking the lengthiest punishment thus far in relation to the U.S. Capitol attack.
Concurrently, another member, sentenced to 10 years, left the courtroom shouting “Trump won,” highlighting the ongoing political tensions.
These individuals represent the latest in a series of far-right group members to be sentenced for their participation in the January 6, 2021, breach of Congress – a bid to overturn the electoral loss suffered by former President Donald Trump.
Ethan Nordean, convicted of seditious conspiracy and a key figure within the Proud Boys, received the 18-year sentence.
This fell short of the 27 years sought by prosecutors but matched the sentence dealt to Stewart Rhodes, founder of the Oath Keepers, in May.
The sentencing process took place under the observation of U.S. District Judge Timothy Kelly, who stressed the importance of a peaceful transfer of power.
In addressing the court, Nordean acknowledged the events of January 6 as a “complete and utter tragedy.”
He claimed his intention at the Capitol was to lead and ensure the avoidance of trouble.
His family pleaded for leniency, while his lawyer advocated for a sentence ranging from 15 to 21 months.
Dominic Pezzola, a Proud Boys member, received a 10-year prison sentence for his involvement.
Although not in a leadership role, Pezzola was convicted of felonies such as obstructing official proceedings and assaulting police.
He exited the courtroom proclaiming “Trump won!” His assault on former Capitol Police Officer Mark Ode, including the use of a stolen riot shield to break a window, was cited by prosecutors as a basis for the substantial sentence.
Pezzola’s legal representatives had requested a five-year prison term, attributing his actions to the heat of the moment. Prior to his outburst, Pezzola expressed remorse and regret, acknowledging he should not have breached the Capitol’s barriers that day.
Prosecutors had originally sought a 20-year sentence for Pezzola.
The Capitol attack, triggered by Trump’s baseless claims of election fraud, saw thousands of his supporters storm the building.
Tragically, five people, including a police officer, lost their lives during or shortly after the riot, with over 140 police officers sustaining injuries.
The Capitol itself suffered substantial damage amounting to millions of dollars.
In the aftermath, more than 1,100 individuals were arrested on charges linked to the attack. Among them, over 630 pleaded guilty and no fewer than 110 were convicted at trial.
The events of January 6 continue to reverberate through the United States’ political landscape, underscoring deep-seated divisions and prompting calls for accountability and justice.