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Former Proud Boys leader Enrique Tarrio's sentencing in Jan. 6 case is delayed

A MARTÍNEZ, HOST:

The sentencing hearing for two former leaders of the Proud Boys has been delayed because of an emergency. That's according to the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Columbia. Enrique Tarrio and one of his lieutenants, Ethan Nordean, were convicted earlier this year for seditious conspiracy and other crimes. They were due to be sentenced today. NPR's Jaclyn Diaz was in the courtroom. Jaclyn, what happened?

JACLYN DIAZ, BYLINE: Hi. Good morning. So the sentencing hearing for Enrique Tarrio was scheduled for 10 a.m. Eastern Time. But at about 9:30, we got word that the sentencing had been postponed. No reason, at the time, has been given, and that's according to his attorney, Nayib Hassan. And as a reminder, Tarrio is the former national chairman of the Proud Boys, and he's still looking at a possible 33-year prison sentence. Ethan Nordean, a fellow member of the Proud Boys, was also going to be sentenced this afternoon. He's looking at around 27 years if the federal judge goes along with the prosecution's recommendations. And this is all tied to their role in a conspiracy to stop the certification of the 2020 election results in Congress and to keep Donald Trump in the White House.

Now, if Tarrio and Nordean do get sentenced eventually to more than two decades in prison, it will mark the most severe punishment given to any January 6 rioter. Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes, who was convicted of seditious conspiracy in a separate case back in May, had received the longest sentence so far of 18 years.

MARTÍNEZ: Yeah, and this after a monthslong trial earlier this year. Can you walk us through how we got here?

DIAZ: Yeah, it's been a long road. The events that led to Tarrio and Nordean's conviction for seditious conspiracy goes back to January 6, 2021. Prosecutors say that the two men, along with other members of the Proud Boys, conspired to block the certification of the 2020 election results. What's interesting is that Tarrio wasn't even at the Capitol on January 6. He was arrested in Washington, D.C., days earlier for burning a local church's Black Lives Matter banner. His attorneys have tried to argue for a lighter sentence because of that. But prosecutors say he still directed Proud Boys to take over the Capitol building. Nordean was actually there that day and was involved in fights with police who were trying to protect the building. Prosecutors say Tarrio, Nordean and others consider themselves foot soldiers of the right.

MARTÍNEZ: And I know that there was a hearing yesterday, and we heard from some of the victims. What did they say?

DIAZ: Yeah, we heard from three police officers yesterday. Two of them were in the courtroom to address the court. They were U.S. Capitol Police Officer Shea Cooney and U.S. Capitol Police Inspector Thomas Boyd. Both officers got pretty emotional during their fairly brief statement to the court. They talked about how they really didn't think they would make it through January 6, 2021, alive. And according to court documents, Cooney had actually come face to face with Nordean during the riot. She said she and her other officers were beaten by rioters, many of whom claim to support law enforcement. Hearing those voices really emphasized the pain and the fear that officers felt that day and still deal with.

MARTÍNEZ: OK, so sentencing for Tarrio and Nordean delayed. Now what?

DIAZ: So we got word that Tarrio's sentencing hearing is rescheduled for September 5 and Nordean's for September 1. There are still three other defendants who were tried alongside Tarrio and Nordean who also await sentencing this week. And it's still unclear right now whether those hearings will go on as scheduled. They're facing between 20 to 30 years each. And other than that, we still have many other January 6 rioters who await sentencing.

MARTÍNEZ: All right. That's NPR's Jaclyn Diaz. Thanks.

DIAZ: Thanks. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Jaclyn Diaz is a reporter on Newshub.