Another three Proud Boys have been charged for their alleged involvement during the U.S. Capitol breach on Jan. 6, the Justice Department (DOJ) announced.
In two separate news releases, the department said they had arrested Ethan Nordean, 30, who also goes by the name Rufio Panman; Nicholas DeCarlo, 30, of Texas; and Nicholas R. Ochs, 34, of Hawaii for allegedly joining a group of people who breached the U.S. Capitol building as lawmakers were counting electoral votes.
According to court documents, Nordean is the self-described “Sergeant of Arms” of the Seattle Chapter of the Proud Boys. The group, established by libertarian Gavin McInnes, had previously attracted media attention for being involved in violent encounters, in particular, clashing with the extremist group Antifa.
An FBI Special agent said in a sworn affidavit that it had reviewed video footage and photographs of the Jan. 6 incident and identified Nordean participating in a march with other Proud Boys members shortly before the riots. The agent said other footage and photos show Nordean entering the Capitol building with other protesters.
A series of social media messages posted prior to Jan. 6, reviewed by the agent, allegedly indicate Nordean’s intent to “engage in conflict.” He had posted a message asking for donations of “protective gear” and “communications equipment” on Dec. 27 and remarked “Let them remember the day they decided to make war with us” on Jan. 4, the agent said.
Nordean was charged with obstructing or impeding an official proceeding, which carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison; aiding and abetting, which carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison; and knowingly entering or remaining in restricted building or grounds, and violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds, which each carry a maximum penalty of one year in prison.
Meanwhile, the DOJ said a federal grand jury in Washington has indicted DeCarlo and Ochs with conspiring to obstruct the United States Congress’ certification of the 2020 election results.
Prosecutors alleged that the two men planned and raised money for their effort and then traveled to participate in the riots. They are also alleging that Ochs is the founder of the Honolulu chapter of the Proud Boys.
The indictment also accuses the pair of posting photos and videos of their actions inside the Capitol building during the incident and defaced a Memorial Door with the words “MURDER THE MEDIA.”
They have been indicted for conspiring to commit an offense against the United States, one count of theft of federal government property, one count of depredation against federal government property, and three counts of unlawful entry, disorderly conduct, or violent conduct in restricted buildings or grounds.
DeCarlo and Ochs were previously taken into custody on Jan. 26 and Jan. 7, respectively. The indictment was unsealed on Wednesday.
The two members—Dominic Pezzola, 43, of New York, and William Pepe, 31, of New York—were both indicted on charges of conspiracy, civil disorder, unlawfully entering restricted buildings or grounds, and disorderly and disruptive conduct in restricted buildings or grounds.
Authorities also charged Pezzola with additional counts.
Federal authorities have expended significant effort to crackdown on protesters who participated in the Jan. 6 U.S. Capitol breach, which left five people dead. More than 400 cases have been opened related to the incident and over 150 people have been charged federally, the DOJ said late January.
The Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday sent a letter to the head of the DOJ and FBI requesting answers to a series of questions over the agencies’ preparation and response to the U.S. Capitol breach.
The panel has asked for additional information about what the agencies knew prior to the incident, the actions they took to address concerns, whether threat assessments were conducted about the risk of violence for Jan. 6, the agencies’ role in responding to the incident, and the agencies’ prosecutorial response following the event.
“The security failures that enabled the January 6 attack span multiple agencies, and emerging reports raise serious concerns about the adequacy of preparations by the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI),” the senators wrote (pdf).
Steven D’Antuono, head of the FBI Washington field office, told reporters in January that the agency had “received a lot of intelligence” leading up to the Jan. 6 protest and had shared the information with law enforcement partners through its shared systems.
“We immediately shared that information and action was taken as demonstrated by the arrest of Enrique Tarrio by the Metropolitan Police Department the night before the rally,” D’Antuono said, referring to the arrest of the head of the Proud Boys.
“Other individuals were identified in other parts of the country and their travel subsequently disrupted.”
Footage from Jan. 6 shows that a small group of individuals were mainly responsible for acts of violence and property destruction, while a larger group of protesters could be seen protesting in a more non-violent way.
Matt Braynard, former director of Data and Strategy for former President Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign, told The Epoch Times that he believes charges against the non-violent protesters on Jan. 6 should be dropped.
“Anybody that engaged in any violence on January 6, who may have assaulted a police officer or committed serious property damage or vandalism should face serious charges,” Braynard said.
“However, the vast majority of those people have not been charged with such crimes. They’ve been charged with simply walking through an open door to a public building, with no knowledge or no reason to expect that it would be illegal or forbidden.”
Braynard has written to the DOJ and FBI about his concerns of charging non-violent protesters, arguing that many of the protesters who entered the Capitol “reasonably believed they had permission” to enter.
He argued that police officers “opened the protective fencing around the Capitol and stood aside as crowds entered the building.”
Footage that was circulating online reviewed by The Epoch Times shows several police officers allowing a crowd of protesters to breach a fence with minimal resistance, while other videos show police did not make a significant effort to prevent the protesters from entering the building.
Other videos did show police officers telling protesters that they were not allowed to be there and asking protesters to leave the premises.
Proud Boys was recently designated as a terrorist organization by the Canadian government. President Joe Biden and Trump have both previously condemned the group.