WASHINGTON, Sept 1 (Reuters) – Jan. 6, 2021 A member of the far-right Proud Boys shouted “Trump won” as he left a Washington courtroom Friday after being sentenced to 10 years in prison for assault. in the US capital by supporters of Donald Trump.
Dominic Pesola did not play a leadership role in the group and was the only defendant of the five acquitted of the treasonous conspiracy. He was convicted of obstructing official proceedings and assaulting the police, among other offences.
“You personally played a significant role in the events of that day,” U.S. District Judge Timothy Kelly said before handing down a sentence half as long as prosecutors had sought. “It’s a national disgrace, what happened.”
Kelly notes that Pezzola is a new member of the group and has been cleared of treason, but also observes Pezzola’s actions.
A second sentencing hearing for defendant Ethan Nordien, the group’s leader, will be held later Friday, after he was convicted of treasonous conspiracy and other crimes.
Kelly on Thursday sentenced two other former Proud Boys leaders, Joseph Biggs and Zachary Rehl, to 17 years and 15 years in prison, respectively.
Thousands of Trump supporters stormed the Capitol following a speech in which the Republican party 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.
The government is seeking a 20-year sentence for Pezzola and 27 years for Nordean.
Although Pezzola was found not guilty of sedition, prosecutors said his 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 long prison sentence.
“He was an interested foot soldier in that conspiracy,” prosecutor Eric Kenerson told the judge Friday.
Pesola’s lawyers had asked for their client to be sentenced to about five years in prison, and said in their sentencing memo that he had already served three years awaiting trial. 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,” Bezola said in an emotional speech before the judge, in which he apologized to Ott and sent lewd comments to his wife and two daughters. “I should never have crossed the barrier in the Capitol that day.”
Nordean’s attorney, Nick Smith, plans to argue for a lesser sentence of 15-21 months.
“Nordian walked in and out of the capital like hundreds of class B miscreants,” Smith wrote. “When the government distinguishes Nordian’s actions from those of the other January 6 defendants, it relies on character, not facts.”
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.
Former Proud Boys leader Enrique Dario will be sentenced on September 5. The government is asking for a 33-year sentence.
Sarah N. in Washington. Reporting by Lynch and Mahiny Price; Editing by Scott Malone, Grant McCool and Jonathan Otis
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