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

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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, 2021Capitol attack.

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.

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, while 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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“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 alleged. “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 present at the Capitol on Jan. 6, prosecutors allege that 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 Oath Keepers group, 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 pleaded guilty and have agreed to cooperate with the government’s continuing investigation.

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The far-reaching criminal investigation has so far 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, year-long investigation into the Capitol attack.