BALTIMORE (WJZ) – A New York man pleaded guilty Wednesday to storming the US Capitol with far-right members of the Proud Boys, a major milestone in the Justice Department’s prosecution of extremists involved. January 6 uprising.
Matthew Greene was the first Proud Boys member to publicly plead guilty to conspiring with other members to prevent Congress from certifying the Electoral College vote. He will also cooperate with authorities under the terms of his plea agreement.
Greene was arrested in April after a grand jury indicted him in the same case as two other Proud Boys, Dominic Pezzola and William Pepe. They pleaded not guilty.
Greene traveled from Syracuse, New York, to Washington, D.C., with Pezzola and the other Proud Boys on January 5. Prosecutors allege Greene crossed a line of police toppled police and was in front of a crowd when police arrived. Police began using pepper spray and other crowd-control measures.. But prosecutors said they did not have any evidence that Greene entered the Capitol building that day.
“After the riot, (Greene) engaged in conversations (on) encrypted messaging platforms acknowledging his role in the riots, encouraging others not to give up the fight for return to their country and compare the situation as it existed in the weeks after January 6 to the fourth generation war,” prosecutors wrote in a court filing in June.
More than three dozen people accused in the siege of the Capitol have been identified by federal authorities as leaders, members or associates of the Proud Boys, including at least 16 defendants charged with conspiracy. In critical cases, four group leaders was charged in March with conspiring to obstruct Congress’ certification of President Joe Biden’s election victory.
Greene is expected to face a maximum sentence of just over four years in prison at a sentence set in March, and a fine of between $15,000 and $150,000, along with about $2,000 in restitution. He pleaded guilty to federal charges of conspiracy and obstruction of a formal proceeding.
Other extremist group members have been charged with conspiring to carry out a coordinated attack on the Capitol, including more than 20 people with ties to the anti-government Oath-Keepers.
Graydon Young, 55, of Englewood, Florida, is the first defendant to plead guilty in the Department of Justice’s grand conspiracy case against members of the Oath Keepers. At least four other people linked to the Oath Keepers have also pleaded guilty to rioting.
Members of the Proud Boys describe themselves as a politically incorrect men’s club for “Western chauvinists”. Its members regularly engaged in street fights with anti-fascist activists at rallies and rallies. Vice Media co-founder Gavin McInnes, who founded the Proud Boys in 2016, sued the Southern Poverty Law Center for labeling the group as a hate group.
Police arrested top Proud Boys leader Enrique Tarrio in Washington two days before the Capitol riots and charged him with vandalizing a Black Lives Matter banner at a historic Blacks church during a protests in December 2020. Tarrio, who is serving a prison sentence. for that case in the District of Columbia, not charged in connection with the siege of the Capitol.
On the morning of January 6, members of the Proud Boys met at the Washington Monument and marched to the Capitol before President Donald Trump wrapped up his speech to thousands of supporters near the White House.
About two hours later, just before Congress convened a joint session to certify the election results, a group of Proud Boys followed a crowd of people who broke through the barricade at the pedestrian entrance to the Capitol grounds. , according to one of the indictments. Several Proud Boys also entered the Capitol on their own after the mob smashed windows and forced them open, the indictment said.
Greene was wearing a headset that connected to a handheld radio, according to prosecutors. They said the Proud Boys had arranged for members to communicate on specific frequencies on Baofeng radio. Chinese-made devices can be programmed to use on hundreds of frequencies, making it difficult for outsiders to eavesdrop.
In August, US District Judge Timothy Kelly ordered Greene’s pre-trial detention.
In June, prosecutors said Greene, who served in the National Guard, was “ready to put the lessons of that military service experience to use” against the US. They noted that Greene had an unregistered pistol and AR-15 rifle in his home and that he had ordered more than 2,000 rounds of ammunition and respirators after January 6.
“He encouraged an associate to read about guerrilla warfare and the tactics employed by the Taliban and ‘get ready to do uncomfortable things,'” prosecutors wrote.
Defense attorney Michael Kasmarek said in June that Greene, then 34, was a partner at a multimillion-dollar digital graphic design firm. Greene had a “very limited” relationship with the Proud Boys prior to January 6 and had no leadership role in the group, Kasmarek said.
Greene “concluded that his personal beliefs and morals were inconsistent with the beliefs and morals of the Proud Boys,” and that he was “eager to publicly decline his short-term membership in the Proud Boys.” this group,” his lawyer wrote.
More than 700 people have been charged federally in connection with the riots. More than 150 of them pleaded guilty, including at least two other defendants with ties to the Proud Boys.
Andrew Bennett, a Maryland man who prosecutors described as a “fan” of the Proud Boys but not a member of the group, pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor and was sentenced to three months of home detention in October.
Micajah Jackson, an Arizona man who also pleaded guilty to misdemeanors, was photographed walking towards the Capitol on January 6 with a group of Proud Boys. However, Jackson told the FBI that he was not affiliated with the group and did not support the group’s ideology.
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