GlobalEnrique Tarrio, of the Proud Boys, sentenced to 22 years in prison...

Enrique Tarrio, of the Proud Boys, sentenced to 22 years in prison for assault on the US Capitol

WASHINGTON (AP) — Former Proud Boys leader Enrique Tarrio was sentenced Tuesday to 22 years in prison for orchestrating his far-right group’s attack on the U.S. Capitol in a failed attempt to prevent the transfer of presidential power after Donald Trump lost the 2020 election, ending the case with the longest sentence ever handed down in connection with the insurrection.

Tarrio, 39, asked for leniency before the judge handed down a sentence that exceeds the 18 years imposed on former Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes and one-time Proud Boys leader Ethan Nordean for seditious conspiracy and other charges related to the January 6, 2021 attack.

Tarrio, who was a leader of the neo-fascist group as it became a power in Republican circles, lowered his gaze after his sentencing and later squared his shoulders. He raised his hand and made a “V” gesture with his fingers as he was escorted out of court.

His sentencing comes as the Justice Department prepares to put Trump on trial in the same Washington court over allegations that the then-president hatched plans to illegally hold on to power he knew had been taken from him by voters.

Rising to speak before the sentence was handed down, Tarrio called January 6 a “national shame” and apologized to the police officers who defended the Capitol and to the lawmakers who fled in terror. His voice broke as he expressed remorse for having let down his family and promised that he has now left politics.

“I’m not a fan of politics. Harming or changing the results of the elections was not my goal,” Tarrio said.

“Please have pity on me,” he said, adding, “I ask you not to take away my forty-odd years.”

Federal Judge Timothy Kelly, who was appointed by Trump, said Tarrio was motivated by a “revolutionary zeal” to lead the conspiracy that resulted in “200 men, ready for battle, surrounding the Capitol.” Noting that Tarrio had previously shown no public remorse for his actions, the judge stated that it was necessary to impose a harsh sentence to deter future acts of political violence.

“This can’t happen again. It can’t happen again,” the judge repeated.

Tarrio and three lieutenants were convicted in May of seditious conspiracy and other crimes after several months of trial that served as a vivid reminder of the violent chaos fueled by Trump’s lies about the election, which helped inspire far-right groups. like the Proud Boys and the Oath Keepers.

Prosecutors had sought 33 years behind bars for Tarrio, whom they described as the ringleader of a plot to use violence to shatter the cornerstone of American democracy and overturn the election victory of Joe Biden, a Democrat, over then- President Trump, a Republican.

Prosecutor Conor Mulroe told the judge that the Proud Boys came dangerously close to succeeding in their plans, noting that “no guns or explosives were required.”

“There was a very real possibility that on January 7th we woke up to a constitutional crisis,” Mulroe said. “There would have been 300 million Americans with no idea who their next president would be or how it would be decided.”

Tarrio was not in Washington DC when members of the Proud Boys joined thousands of Trump supporters, who smashed windows, punched police officers and stormed the House and Senate precincts as lawmakers gathered to certify Biden’s victory. But prosecutors say the Miami resident organized and directed the Proud Boys’ raid from afar, inspiring fans with his charisma and penchant for propaganda.

Tarrio’s lawyers denied that the Proud Boys had a plan to attack the Capitol or stop the certification of Biden’s election victory. They argued that the prosecution used his client as a scapegoat for Trump, who gave a speech at the “Stop The Robbery” march near the White House on January 6 and urged his supporters to “fight with everything.” .

Tarrio’s younger sister, as well as his fiancée and his wife, tearfully begged the judge to lenient his sentence. Tarrio removed his glasses and wiped his eyes as he listened to his mother’s words.

The defense had asked for a maximum sentence of 15 years behind bars, arguing that their client should not receive as harsh a sentence as Rhodes, who was present at the Capitol on January 6.

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