Ex-Proud Boys leader Tarrio pleads not guilty to charges tied to U.S. Capitol attack

Proud Boys leader Enrique Tarrio is released from jail in Washington
Proud Boys leader Enrique Tarrio speaks to the media following his release from the D.C. Central Detention Facility where he had been held since September 2021, in Washington, U.S., January 14, 2022. REUTERS/Evelyn Hockstein/File Photo

WASHINGTON, April 5 (Reuters) - Enrique Tarrio, the former top leader of the right-wing group the Proud Boys, pleaded not guilty on Tuesday to criminal charges accusing him of conspiring to block Congress from certifying President Joe Biden's 2020 election victory ahead of last year's attack on the U.S. Capitol.

Tarrio's attorney entered the not guilty plea on his behalf during a virtual hearing in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. The judge also announced a postponement in the planned May 18 start to the trial.

Tarrio, 38, is one of the most high-profile of the more than 775 people criminally charged for their roles in the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol by supporters of then-President Donald Trump on the day Congress convened to certify Biden's victory. Tarrio and five other members of the Proud Boys are charged with conspiring to block the certification.

Tarrio himself was not present at the time of the attack, unlike his co-defendants. Prosecutors said Tarrio still maintained an active leadership role behind the scenes.

He was arrested on March 8, and remains in jail, after a federal magistrate judge in Florida ruled that he presents a danger to the community if released.

Members of various right-wing organizations have been arrested in connection with the Capitol attack, also including the Oath Keepers militia and its leader Stewart Rhodes.

During Tuesday's hearing, U.S. District Judge Timothy Kelly also said he will be granting a request by the government to postpone the trial date and added that he will release a written ruling later in the day.

Tarrio was added last month as a co-defendant in the case, and prosecutors also indicated there is still a chance they could file additional charges or charge more defendants.

With a packed trial schedule ahead for the court, both because of the number of cases and due to delays from the COVID-19 pandemic, Kelly said he will hold off on selecting a new date until attorneys in the case can confer with one another. He said he will schedule another court hearing for April 21 to hopefully finalize a new trial date.

Reporting by Sarah N. Lynch; Editing by Will Dunham

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Thomson Reuters

Sarah N. Lynch is the lead reporter for Reuters covering the U.S. Justice Department out of Washington, D.C. During her time on the beat, she has covered everything from the Mueller report and the use of federal agents to quell protesters in the wake of George Floyd’s murder, to the rampant spread of COVID-19 in prisons and the department's prosecutions following the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol.