Proud Boys sentencing on Jan. 6 Capitol riot charges postponed after judge calls out sick

Members of the far-right Proud Boys, including leader Enrique Tarrio (C), rally in support of U.S. President Donald Trump to protest against the results of the 2020 U.S. presidential election, in Washington, November 14, 2020.

Hannah McKay | Reuters

Sentencing hearings for Enrique Tarrio and another Proud Boys leader in the Jan. 6 seditious conspiracy case were postponed Wednesday after the presiding judge called out sick, federal authorities told NBC News.

The abrupt cancellation of a sentencing hearing for Tarrio, the former leader of the far-right group who faces potential decades in prison, was initially chalked up to an unspecified “emergency” by the U.S. attorney’s office in Washington, D.C.

But a spokesperson for the U.S. Marshals Service told NBC that the sentencing was canceled because presiding Judge Timothy Kelly was sick.

A spokeswoman for the U.S. District Court in D.C. confirmed to CNBC that there was no security emergency at the courthouse.

Tarrio’s sentencing was rescheduled to next Tuesday, Sept. 5, court documents showed later Wednesday morning. Ethan Nordean, a Proud Boys chapter leader who was set to be sentenced Wednesday afternoon, had his hearing rescheduled for Friday.

Tarrio, 39, was set to be sentenced Wednesday morning following his conviction on charges he helped mastermind a seditious conspiracy to disrupt the 2020 presidential election certification on Jan. 6, 2021.

The Justice Department is seeking 33 years in prison for Tarrio — nearly twice as much time behind bars as the longest sentence that has yet come out of the sweeping prosecution of more than 1,100 defendants related to the Jan. 6 Capitol riot.

Tarrio and his four co-defendants in the case played a “central role” in “setting into motion the unlawful events of that day,” Attorney General Merrick Garland said after they were found guilty in May.

Three of those co-defendants — Joseph Biggs, Zachary Rehl and Dominic Pezzola — have sentencing hearings scheduled for later in the week.

The DOJ is seeking 27 years in prison for Nordean; 33 years for Biggs; 30 years for Rehl; and 20 years for Pezzola. All five defendants were found guilty of obstructing an official proceeding, conspiring to impede Congress and federal authorities, civil disorder, and destruction of government property. Pezzola was the only one not found guilty of seditious conspiracy.

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The defendants appeared in court in orange jumpsuits on Tuesday for a lengthy hearing that aired impact statements from victims of the Jan. 6 riot, when a violent mob broke through police lines and stormed the U.S. Capitol.

The mob, spurred by former President Donald Trump’s false claims that his loss to President Joe Biden was the result of widespread election fraud, forced lawmakers to flee their chambers, temporarily halting the peaceful transfer of power.

A sixth defendant in the Proud Boys case, Charles Donohoe, pleaded guilty in April 2022 to charges of conspiracy and assaulting officers.

Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes in May was hit with an 18-year prison sentence, the longest any Jan. 6 defendant had received up to that point. Rhodes was also convicted of seditious conspiracy.

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