A Proud Boy pleaded for leniency from a judge, then yelled 'Trump won' on his way out
Updated September 1, 2023 at 1:19 PM ET
Dominic Pezzola, a member of the Proud Boys who became one of the recognizable faces of the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol more than two years ago, was sentenced to 10 years in federal prison.
Judge Timothy Kelly's sentencing decision Friday is half of what prosecutors sought for Pezzola.
Kelly said his sentence reflects Pezzola's lesser role in comparison to his co-defendants and his conduct that day.
On Friday, Kelly called the events of Jan. 6 at the U.S. Capitol "a national disgrace and that Pezzola's actions that day "warrant significant deterrence."
In his plea for leniency to the court, Pezzola said he had given up politics, yet as he was being escorted out of the courtroom he shouted, "Trump won!"
Pezzola was convicted of assaulting, resisting or impeding certain officers and robbery involving government property. Unlike four of his co-defendants in the Proud Boys seditious conspiracy case, Pezzola was acquitted of that charge.
Though its far less than what prosecutors were looking for, the sentencing is in line with that of two of Pezzola's co-defendants, Joseph Biggs and Zachary Rehl who heard their punishment Thursday. Biggs received 17 years and Rehl, 15 years — roughly half of what prosecutors had sought for the two.
Both penalties are also below the most severe sentence of 18 years given to Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes in his separate seditious conspiracy conviction for his actions during Jan. 6.
Pezzola became known for taking a shield from a police officer during the riots. He used it to bash in a Capitol window, allowing other members of the mob to rush into the building.
Pezzola's family speak on his behalf
In his plea to Judge Kelly and before his outburst, Pezzola said he stood before the court "a changed man."
He became emotional as he addressed his two daughters and his wife. He expressed deep regret for leaving his wife to care for their family and for missing major events in his daughters' lives.
To Judge Kelly he said: "I stand before you with a heart full of regret."
He said, regarding his actions on Jan. 6, "This was the worst, most regrettable decision of my life. I fully realize the gravity of my actions."
Pezzola's wife, Lisa Magee, his daughter and mother also addressed the court to beg for mercy. Pezzola wiped his eyes as he listened to them describe how his involvement in Jan. 6 and his subsequent imprisonment negatively impacted their family.
Magee said her two daughters have become victims of harassment and bullying. She also said she can't find employment because of her connection to Pezzola.
"I truly believe if he could change the course of that day, he would," Magee said.
The last of the Proud Boys await sentencing
Kelly had previously said that he weighed the sentences of other Jan. 6 defendants and was working to avoid large sentencing disparities. This is part of why he gave Biggs and Rehl sentences far below guidelines and the government's recommendations.
But one of Pezzola's defense attorneys, Roger Roots, filed a late sentencing memoranda for his client the morning of the hearing. In the filing, Roots warned against "a growing danger in Federal Courts of severe sentencing disparities" between Jan. 6 rioters and "left wing rioters."
Kelly said sentencing is a "serious and solemn thing," that the tardy filing was "inappropriate" given its lateness and struck it from the record.
The sentencing hearings for Tarrio and Nordean, originally scheduled for Wednesday, were delayed after Kelly fell ill.
Nordean's hearing is rescheduled for later Friday with Tarrio's to commence on Tuesday, Sept. 5.
Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.