Proud Boys sentenced to 18 and 10 years for roles in Jan. 6 Capitol attack

Several rioters, including one holding a police shield, inside the U.S. Capitol.
Dominic Pezzola, center, holding a police shield inside the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, declared “Trump won!” in court Friday after being sentenced to 10 years in prison for his role in the attack.
(Manuel Balce Ceneta / Associated Press)
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A onetime leader in the Proud Boys far-right extremist group has been sentenced to 18 years in prison for his role in the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol, tying the record for the longest sentence in the attack.

Ethan Nordean was one of several Proud Boys convicted of spearheading the attack to try to prevent the peaceful transfer of power from Donald Trump to Joe Biden after the 2020 presidential election.

Nordean was “the undisputed leader on the ground” that day, according to Jason McCullough, one of the prosecutors who had asked the judge to sentence him to 27 years.


The former Seattle-area chapter president was one of two Proud Boys sentenced Friday. The other, Dominic Pezzola, was convicted of smashing a window in the initial breach of the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.

“Trump won!” Pezzola said Friday as he walked out of the courtroom after being sentenced to 10 years in prison, also among the longest sentences in the Jan. 6 attack.

A former organizer of the far-right Proud Boys extremist group has been sentenced to 17 years in prison for spearheading the U.S. Capitol attack.

Aug. 31, 2023

The previous record for a Jan. 6 sentence had been set by Stewart Rhodes, founder of the Oath Keepers, another far-right extremist group.

Proud Boys leader Enrique Tarrio became the highest-ranking member of the group to be convicted after a monthslong trial earlier this year. He is scheduled to be sentenced Tuesday.

In Nordean’s case, prosecutors said his words and online postings grew increasingly violent leading up to Jan. 6. On that day, he led a group of nearly 200 men toward the Capitol, then moved to the front of the mob and helped tear down a fence, allowing rioters to enter the grounds, according to court documents.

His defense lawyers argued that there was no plan to storm the Capitol that day, and pushed back against the claims that Nordean had torn down the fence and that his rhetoric was specifically about Jan. 6.


Nordean, 33, of Auburn, Wash., says he now sees Jan. 6 as a “complete and utter tragedy.”

“There is no rally or political protest that should hold value over human life,” he said. “To anyone who I directly or even indirectly wronged, I’m sorry.”

Ex-Proud Boys leader Enrique Tarrio and three others are found guilty of seditious conspiracy in the Jan. 6 insurrection. A fifth member was convicted of other serious felonies.

May 4, 2023

His sentence was handed down by U.S. District Judge Timothy Kelly, who also sentenced Pezzola earlier in the day.

On Jan. 6, Pezzola, 46, took a police officer’s riot shield and used it to smash a window, allowing rioters to make the initial breach into the Capitol, and he later filmed a “celebratory video” with a cigar from inside, prosecutors said.

A jury acquitted the recent Proud Boys recruit of his highest-profile charge, seditious conspiracy, a rarely brought Civil War-era offense. But jurors convicted him of other serious charges, and prosecutors asked for 20 years in prison.

Pezzola “was an enthusiastic foot soldier,” prosecutor Erik Kenerson said.

Judge Kelly noted that Pezzola, of Rochester, N.Y., was a newcomer to the group who didn’t write the kind of increasingly violent online messages that his co-defendants did leading up to the Jan. 6 attack. Still, he was in some ways a “tip of the spear” in allowing rioters to get into the Capitol, Kelly said.

A member of the Proud Boys extremist group disappeared before his sentencing in a Jan. 6 Capitol riot case, in which prosecutors are seeking prison time.

Aug. 18, 2023

“The reality is you smashed that window in and let people begin to stream into the Capitol building and threaten the lives of our lawmakers,” the judge told Pezzola. “It’s not something that I ever dreamed I would have seen in our country.”


Defense attorneys had asked for five years for Pezzola, saying that he got “caught up in the craziness” that day.

Pezzola testified at trial that he originally grabbed the officer’s shield to protect himself from police riot control measures, and his lawyers argued that he broke only one pane of glass and that it was other rioters who smashed out the rest of the window.

He told the judge that he wished he’d never crossed into a restricted area on Jan. 6, and he apologized to the officer whose shield he took.

“There is no place in my future for groups or politics whatsoever,” he said.

But later, as he left the courtroom, he raised a fist and said, “Trump won!”

The estranged wife of Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes talks about her role in the group accused of playing a part in the Jan. 6 Capitol riot.

Nov. 12, 2021

Former President Trump and his allies have repeatedly and falsely claimed that the 2020 election was stolen. A series of federal and state investigations and dozens of lawsuits have not uncovered any evidence that the election was rigged.

Two of Nordean and Pezzola’s co-defendants were sentenced Thursday, also to some of the longest prison terms handed down in the Jan. 6 attack. Joseph Biggs, an organizer from Ormond Beach, Fla., got 17 years, and Zachary Rehl, a leader of the Philadelphia chapter, got 15 years.

The Proud Boys’ trial laid bare far-right extremists’ embrace of lies by Trump, a Republican, that the 2020 election was stolen from him.


More than 1,100 people have been charged with federal crimes related to the Capitol attack. More than 600 of them have been convicted and sentenced.