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Prosecutors charge former Proud Boys leader, 4 others with seditious conspiracy in Jan. 6 attack

USA TODAY logo USA TODAY 6/7/2022 Kevin Johnson, USA TODAY

Federal prosecutors escalated their case against the Proud Boys extremist group Monday, unveiling new federal charges of seditious conspiracy against Henry "Enrique" Tarrio, the group's former national chairman, and four top associates related to the deadly Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol attack.

Enrique Tarrio, leader of the Proud Boys, addresses a crowd in Miami on May 25, 2021, at the Torch of Friendship to remember the one-year anniversary of the killing of George Floyd. © Joe Raedle, Getty Images Enrique Tarrio, leader of the Proud Boys, addresses a crowd in Miami on May 25, 2021, at the Torch of Friendship to remember the one-year anniversary of the killing of George Floyd.

The new charges build on an earlier conspiracy case against Tarrio, 38; Ethan Nordean, 31; Joseph Biggs, 38; Zachary Rehl, 37; and Dominic Pezzola, 44, accused in an organized plot to prevent the certification of President Joe Biden's election. 

All remain detained on the earlier charges.

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The new indictment adds two charges: one count of seditious conspiracy and one count of conspiracy to prevent an officer from discharging any duties.  All defendants now face a total of nine charges, and a robbery charge also was lodged against Pezzola.

All five are scheduled to make their first court appearances on new charges Thursday in Washington.

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Video: Proud Boys Leader And Key Members Charged With Sedition Over Jan. 6 (Newsweek)

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"On Jan. 6, 2021, the defendants directed, mobilized, and led members of the crowd onto the Capitol grounds and into the Capitol, leading to dismantling of metal barricades, destruction of property, breaching of the Capitol building, and assaults on law enforcement," prosecutors said. "During and after the attack, Tarrio and his co-defendants claimed credit for what had happened on social media and in an encrypted chat room."

While Tarrio was not at the Capitol on Jan. 6, prosecutors say the former leader helped direct the group's effort.

The rarely used charge of sedition was first brought in connection with a Jan. 6 case against 11 members of the paramilitary group Oath Keepers, including leader Stewart Rhodes, in a plot to block the transfer of power.

Since the Oath Keepers case was filed in January, three of the group's members have pleaded guilty and have agreed to cooperate with the government's investigation.

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The far-reaching criminal investigation has resulted in the arrests of more than 800 people on charges related to the Capitol breach. Of the total, about 250 have been charged with assaulting law enforcement officers or attempting to interfere with authorities.

Investigators also have been seeking evidence of suspects' possible connections with former President Donald Trump and members of his inner circle.

During a September 2020 debate, Trump declined to condemn extremist groups and called on the Proud Boys to "stand back and stand by."

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The new sedition charges come as a special House committee prepares to host the first in a series of public hearings Thursday on its separate, yearlong investigation into the Capitol attack.   

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Prosecutors charge former Proud Boys leader, 4 others with seditious conspiracy in Jan. 6 attack

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