The Justice Department on Friday announced conspiracy charges against two members of the far-right Proud Boys who allegedly participated in the insurrection at the US Capitol on January 6.
The new indictment against Dominic Pezzola and William Pepe, both of New York, is the first riot-related case to accuse Proud Boys members of working together to attack the Capitol.
But the men are not accused of planning the attack before coming to Washington. They have been charged with conspiring to interfere with police officers defending the Capitol, participating in civil disorder, unlawfully entering restricted grounds and other federal crimes.
Both men were first hit with charges two weeks ago. Prosecutors alleged they had removed metal barricades at the Capitol and that Pezzola had smashed a window using a police officer’s riot shield. Footage of the attack shows pro-Trump rioters entering the Capitol through the broken window.
The Proud Boys are a far-right extremist group, with some members who espouse sexist, White nationalist and anti-Semitic views.
Of the approximately 175 known defendants facing riot-related charges, at least eight are affiliated with the Proud Boys, according to a CNN analysis of court documents. Several of the prosecutors and FBI agents handling these Proud Boys cases are specialists in investigating terrorist groups, violent gangs and other national security matters, according to court filings.
The Justice Department’s counterterrorism section, which is part of the national security division, is helping to lead the case against Pezzola and Pepe, according to a news release issued Friday.
In response to the indictment, Pezzola’s lawyer Michael Scibetta told CNN that he was “denied contact” with his jailed client, which undercut his ability to mount a “meaningful legal defense.”
A lawyer representing Pepe did not immediately respond to emails seeking comment.