Judge sentences ex-Proud Boys leader Enrique Tarrio to 22 years for Jan. 6 riot

Former Proud Boys leader Enrique Tarrio is scheduled to be sentenced Tuesday for his role in the Jan. 6, 2021, riot that resulted in the breach of the U.S. Capitol Building in Washington, D.C. File Photo by Gamal Diab/EPA-EFE

Sept. 5 (UPI) -- Enrique Tarrio, the former head of the Proud Boys hate group, was sentenced to 22 years in prison Tuesday for a domestic terrorism enhancement on a seditious conspiracy conviction.

His sentence is the longest for any defendant tied to the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol and was widely reported by news outlets, including ABC News and NBC News.

"To the men and women of law enforcement who answered the call that day, I'm sorry," Tarrio said in a statement before his sentencing.

"I have always tried to hold myself to a higher standard and I failed. I failed miserably. I thought of myself morally above others and this trial has humbled me."

Tarrio downplayed that the riot was intended to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election.

"I am not a political zealot," he said. "When I get back home, I want nothing to do with politics, groups, activism or rallies."

Tarrio's attorney Sabino Jauregui had told the court that his client "is no terrorist" and branded him a "misguided patriot" who was trying to protect his country.

Prosecutors had asked for a 33-year sentence for the 39-year-old Tarrio. He was one of four Proud Boys found guilty of seditious conspiracy, a serious crime of conspiring against the United States.

U.S. District Judge Tim Kelly approved a sentencing enhancement for terrorism but still set the sentencing well below what he could have imposed.

Tarrio wasn't physically present when members of the hate group and other followers of former President Donald Trump stormed the Capitol because he had been arrested days earlier for vandalism at a church and was forbidden to travel to D.C.

However, prosecutors argued that Tarrio was in command of the violent group and took credit for the riot on behalf of the Proud Boys.

In a sentencing memorandum, prosecutors accused Tarrio and his associates of trying to overturn the democratic process.

"They unleashed a force on the Capitol that was calculated to exert their political will on elected officials by force and to undo the results of a democratic election. The foot soldiers of the right aimed to keep their leader in power. They failed," prosecutors wrote.

More than 1,106 people have been arrested for crimes stemming from the violence and the courts are still working through many of the cases.

Tarrio's sentencing comes not long after multiple members of the far-right group Proud Boys recently were sentenced for their efforts in the insurrection.

In August, Judge Timothy Kelly sentenced Proud Boys members Joseph Biggs and Zachary Rehl to 17 and 15 years in prison respectively.

On Friday, Kelly sentenced Dominic Pezzola and Ethan Nordean of the Proud Boys to 10 and 18 years respectively. Nordean's 18-year sentence is tied with Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes' 18-year sentence for the longest handed down to a Jan. 6 rioter.

Kelly sentenced previous Proud Boys defendants to terms lower than the sentencing guidelines, justifying his choice by pointing out that previous convictions for seditious conspiracy had usually involved loss of life.