Proud Boy Responsible for Capitol Window Breakage During January 6 Incident Receives 10-Year Prison Sentence; Asserts ‘Trump Prevailed!’

by Joshua Brown
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Capitol breach sentencing

Dominic Pezzola, a former member of the far-right extremist organization known as the Proud Boys, has been handed a substantial prison sentence of 10 years following his involvement in breaking a window at the U.S. Capitol during the unprecedented breach that transpired on January 6, 2021. In an audacious display as he exited the courtroom subsequent to his sentencing, Pezzola adamantly proclaimed, “Trump won!”

This sentencing represents one of the lengthier terms issued for offenses linked to the January 6 events. The verdict aligns with a pattern of legal repercussions being meted out against key figures within the group who were found guilty of orchestrating an assault with the intention of obstructing the peaceful transition of power from Donald Trump to Joe Biden subsequent to the 2020 presidential election. Notably, Enrique Tarrio, a prominent former leader of the Proud Boys, is set to receive his sentence on the approaching Tuesday.

The actions attributed to Pezzola, 46, encompassed his utilization of a police officer’s riot shield to shatter a window, which consequently enabled the initial breach into the Capitol by rioters. Further exacerbating his culpability, he recorded a “celebratory video” while within the Capitol premises, where he was seen brandishing a cigar. Despite his relatively recent affiliation with the Proud Boys, he was acquitted by a jury of the particularly notable charge of seditious conspiracy—an infrequently invoked offense from the era of the Civil War. Nevertheless, Pezzola was convicted of other serious charges, with the prosecution originally advocating for a 20-year prison sentence.

Prosecutor Erik Kenerson characterized Pezzola as an enthusiastic foot soldier who actively participated in the events of that fateful day. U.S. District Judge Timothy Kelly acknowledged that Pezzola, hailing from Rochester, New York, had a relatively short tenure within the extremist group and did not contribute to the progressively violent online discourse that his co-defendants engaged in leading up to the January 6 attack. Despite this, Judge Kelly emphasized that Pezzola played a pivotal role in facilitating rioters’ unauthorized entry into the Capitol. Consequently, the judge opted to impose a terrorism enhancement on the sentence.

Expressing his sentiments in court, Judge Kelly conveyed to Pezzola that his actions of breaking the window and permitting individuals to infiltrate the Capitol endangered the lives of lawmakers, an occurrence he never anticipated witnessing in the United States. In response to Pezzola’s legal defense seeking a five-year prison term, which was premised on the argument that he became swept up in the chaos of the day, the judge deemed the sentence inadequate.

Pezzola testified during the trial that his initial intent in seizing the officer’s shield was to shield himself from law enforcement’s riot control measures. His legal representatives contended that he had merely shattered one pane of glass and attributed the remaining destruction of the window to other participants of the riot.

In a bid to express his remorse, Pezzola conveyed to the judge his regret over venturing into a restricted area on January 6 and issued an apology to the officer whose shield he appropriated. He further asserted his disassociation from affiliations with groups or political ideologies in the foreseeable future. However, upon departing the courtroom, Pezzola raised a clenched fist and declared, “Trump won!”

Ethan Nordean, a former chapter president of the Proud Boys from Auburn, Washington, is also slated to receive his sentence on the same day. Prosecutors are urging the judge to impose a 27-year prison term on Nordean. Notably, two other co-defendants received lengthy prison sentences on the preceding day—Joseph Biggs, an organizer from Ormond Beach, Florida, was sentenced to 17 years, and Zachary Rehl, a leader of the Philadelphia chapter, received a 15-year sentence.

The trial of the Proud Boys brought to light the manner in which far-right extremists embraced the baseless assertions propagated by Donald Trump, a member of the Republican Party, alleging the theft of the 2020 election. The fallout from the January 6 incident has resulted in more than 1,100 individuals facing charges related to federal crimes tied to the Capitol riot. Of these, over 600 have already been convicted and sentenced.

To date, the most extensive prison sentence issued for January 6-related offenses spans 18 years, which was imposed upon Stewart Rhodes, the founder of another far-right extremist group known as the Oath Keepers. An additional six members of this anti-government faction were also convicted of seditious conspiracy in a separate trial conducted the previous year.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Capitol breach sentencing

What was Dominic Pezzola’s sentence for his involvement in the Capitol breach?

Dominic Pezzola, a former member of the Proud Boys, received a prison sentence of 10 years for breaking a window during the January 6 Capitol breach.

What did Dominic Pezzola declare as he left the courtroom?

As he exited the courtroom following his sentencing, Dominic Pezzola defiantly declared, “Trump won!”

What role did Dominic Pezzola play in the Capitol breach?

Dominic Pezzola utilized a police officer’s riot shield to break a window, enabling the first breach into the Capitol during the January 6 attack.

Was Dominic Pezzola found guilty of seditious conspiracy?

Although Dominic Pezzola was acquitted of the high-profile charge of seditious conspiracy, he was convicted of other serious charges related to the Capitol breach.

What enhancement was applied to Dominic Pezzola’s sentence?

U.S. District Judge Timothy Kelly applied a terrorism enhancement to Dominic Pezzola’s sentence due to his significant role in facilitating unauthorized entry into the Capitol.

How did the judge characterize Dominic Pezzola’s actions?

Judge Kelly expressed astonishment at the gravity of Dominic Pezzola’s actions, emphasizing that the breach and threat to lawmakers’ lives were unprecedented in the United States.

What were the sentences for other Proud Boys members involved?

Joseph Biggs received a 17-year prison sentence, and Zachary Rehl received a 15-year sentence for their roles in the Capitol breach. Ethan Nordean’s sentence was still pending.

How many individuals have faced charges related to the Capitol riot?

Over 1,100 individuals have been charged with federal crimes related to the Capitol riot, with more than 600 already convicted and sentenced.

What was the central focus of the Proud Boys’ trial?

The Proud Boys’ trial revealed the extent to which far-right extremists embraced baseless claims by Donald Trump regarding the alleged theft of the 2020 election.

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