Proud Boy Who Smashed Window at Capitol Sentenced to 10 Years

Dominic Pezzola, the rank-and-file member of the Proud Boys who led the cost into the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, by shattering a window with a stolen police riot defend, was sentenced on Friday to 10 years in jail.

The sentence imposed on Mr. Pezzola was the third to have been handed down this week to 5 members of the far-right group who had been tried in Could for seditious conspiracy and different crimes in one of the crucial important prosecutions to have emerged from the Capitol assault. It was solely half of the 20 years that the federal government had requested.

Mr. Pezzola, a flooring contractor from Rochester, N.Y., was the one one of many 5 males charged within the case who was discovered not responsible of sedition on the trial in Federal District Court docket in Washington. However the jury convicted him of six different felonies, together with assaulting a police officer, a conspiracy to maintain members of Congress from certifying the election and the destruction of one of many Capitol constructing’s home windows.

Video clips of that assault displaying Mr. Pezzola, together with his scraggly beard and wild mane of hair, hammering on the glass with a plastic riot defend, had been a few of the most enduring pictures to have emerged from the Justice Division’s sprawling investigation of the riot. The movies had been prominently featured not solely on the trial, but in addition at public hearings by the Home choose committee that investigated Jan. 6.

Mr. Pezzola’s sentencing within the federal courthouse — which sits nearby of the Capitol constructing — got here in the future after Choose Timothy J. Kelly, a Trump appointee who oversaw the Proud Boys’ sedition case, imposed a 17-year time period on Joseph Biggs, a former high lieutenant within the far-right group, and handed Zachary Rehl, who as soon as ran the Proud Boys Philadelphia chapter, 15 years in jail.

The sentence imposed on Mr. Pezzola was the third to have been handed down this week to members of the Proud Boys.Credit score…Justice Division, through Reuters

Choose Kelly is scheduled to condemn Ethan Nordean, a fourth defendant within the case, on Friday afternoon. On Tuesday, at a fifth and remaining listening to, the choose is predicted to resolve on the punishment for Enrique Tarrio, the previous chairman of the Proud Boys.

The federal government has lengthy maintained that Mr. Pezzola was essentially the most aggressive of the 5 males who went to trial within the conspiracy case, some extent that prosecutors drove house on Friday.

“He was an enthusiastic foot soldier in that conspiracy,” Erik Kenerson, one of many prosecutors, advised Choose Kelly. “And what transpired on Jan. 6 was the type of political violence that Mr. Pezzola signed up for the Proud Boys to partake in.”

After marching with about 200 different members of the group from the Washington Monument to the Capitol, Mr. Pezzola scuffled with a police officer within the crowd exterior and made off together with his plastic riot defend. He in the end used that defend to smash a window on the constructing and rush inside with the primary wave of rioters, taking a video of himself smoking what he described as a victory cigar.

The picture of Mr. Pezzola breaking the window crystallized your complete assault on the Capitol, Mr. Kenerson went on.

“He was the literal poster boy of this conspiracy,” he mentioned.

Steven Metcalf, Mr. Pezzola’s lawyer, agreed partly, admitting that his consumer grew to become infamous weeks earlier than Jan. 6 when The Washington Put up positioned {a photograph} of him on its entrance web page after an earlier pro-Trump rally in Washington.

However Mr. Pezzola was not like the opposite Proud Boys with whom he had been charged, having joined the group weeks earlier than the Capitol assault.

“This is a Proud Boys leadership trial,” Mr. Metcalf mentioned, including that to the high-ranking members of the group, Mr. Pezzola was “a nobody.”

Addressing the court docket, Mr. Pezzola apologized to his two daughters and to his longtime accomplice, Lisa Magee, saying, “I have broken this family and crushed your heart.”

He advised Choose Kelly that he was “a changed and humbled man” who had taken accountability for his actions on Jan. 6.

“At times, it feels like I live in an emotional black hole,” he mentioned.

Then Ms. Magee spoke, detailing all of the methods during which Mr. Pezzola’s case had harmed her and her household. Their daughters had misplaced associates, she mentioned, and have suffered from harassment and despair. She had been unable to search out work and have become financially “destroyed.”

Choose Kelly responded by acknowledging that Mr. Pezzola was a relative newcomer to the Proud Boys and had been acquitted of seditious conspiracy — essentially the most critical cost within the case.

However he additionally famous that Mr. Pezzola had smashed the window that allow different rioters stream into the Capitol to threaten lawmakers as they had been certifying the election.

“You really were in some ways the tip of the spear that allowed people to get into the Capitol,” he mentioned.

Whereas Mr. Tarrio and a few of the different Proud Boys within the case had been well-known figures — even celebrities — in right-wing circles lengthy earlier than Jan. 6, Mr. Pezzola was just about unknown earlier than he took half within the Capitol assault.

A former Marine and beginner boxer, he joined the Proud Boys in November 2020, after President Donald J. Trump misplaced the election. He wrote in a journal launched as proof through the trial that he considered the political state of affairs then as a “battle between good and evil,” requiring patriots to “stand up and take back our God-given liberties just like our Founders did.”

In the course of the trial, Ms. Magee testified on Mr. Pezzola’s behalf, telling the jury that earlier than the unfold of the coronavirus, he was largely bored with politics. However through the pandemic, below the affect of Fox Information and heavy ingesting, he grew to become “consumed” by the nation’s deep divisions, she mentioned.

In a bid humanize himself, Mr. Pezzola additionally testified, telling jurors that he believed that the police had incited the violence on the Capitol and that his navy coaching as an infantryman had merely kicked as he stood within the mob exterior. However his time on the witness stand rapidly turned disastrous as he misplaced his mood and lashed out on the prosecutors making an attempt him, attacking them for conducting what he described as a “corrupt trial” marred by “fake charges.”

Just like the proceedings on Thursday for Mr. Biggs and Mr. Rehl, Mr. Pezzola’s listening to dwelled on thorny points surrounding what is named a terrorism sentencing enhancement. These provisions can be utilized to extend a defendant’s sentence if prosecutors can present that their actions had been undertaken in an effort to affect “the conduct of government by intimidation and coercion.”

Choose Kelly mentioned the enhancement technically utilized to Mr. Pezzola’s case — because it did to these of Mr. Biggs and Mr. Rehl — although he has acknowledged that not one of the Proud Boys engaged in typical acts of terrorism like blowing up buildings or attacking navy installations.

As a authorized matter, the enhancement in Mr. Pezzola’s case emerged from his conviction on costs of breaking the window and from his position in trampling a fence that allowed different rioters to surge ahead.

That deeply annoyed his lawyer, Mr. Metcalf, who advised Choose Kelly, “It’s just ridiculous that that property damage could bring us to this point.”

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