Questions about the Proud Boys Superseding Indictment

As noted here, DOJ charged Enrique Tarrio, along with the existing leadership conspiracy defendants and Dominic Pezzola, This is just the second superseding indictment against the key Proud Boys. And while it’s good that Tarrio was finally included and there are hints of interesting coordination, unlike with the Oath Keepers conspiracy, where each superseding indictment pointed to a relentless march in one direction, where the Proud Boy investigation is heading is far less clear to me.

For now, I’ll assume that’s simply because they’re holding their cards close.

Who is missing

My first question pertains to the non-inclusion of certain people in this indictment.

The first is William Pepe, who had been charged with Dominic Pezzola on the indictment that got consolidated with this one. He has either flipped (which would be especially noteworthy given that he is represented by John Pierce), or he’s just sitting out there in a conspiracy with himself.

Another person not included here is Ron Loerkhe. With Jimmy Haffner, he was instrumental in breaching the East side of the Capitol and seems to have provided military structure to the attack. The two of them remain charged only by complaint and in February DOJ got a 3 month continuance on their case.

A third is Aaron Whallon-Wolkind, a close associate of Zach Rehl’s who kibbitzed the attack from Philadelphia that day. He was raided back in October, seemingly suggesting he too might get charged. The indictment doesn’t charge him. It also leaves out some of his statements that were in earlier court filings.

Who is cooperating and who is not

Thus far, there is only one overt cooperator in the Proud Boy cases: Matthew Greene, the former co-defendant of Dominic Pezzola (who has been moved onto this indictment) and Pepe (who has disappeared).

There are three senior Proud Boys — named as Person 1, Person 2, and Person 3 — whose status remains unknown. All three had key leadership positions. And they presumably were involved in a video chat Tarrio scheduled for December 20 to discuss Person 3’s comment that, “most of the protest will be at the capital building given what’s going on inside.” Person 1 is almost certainly Jeremy Bertino, who lives in SC; a number of well-informed people believe Person 2 is Wolkind. [h/t CH]

There are other Proud Boys who could be included in this indictment but who aren’t. Dan “Milkshake” Scott got a continuance in February for 120 days; that filing stated that he and the government had not yet even started plea negotiations. Joe Biggs’ co-travelers on the Arthur Jackman indictment are all still charged individually, even though two of them were literally touching Biggs at key moments during the day; the government is only now sorting through conflicts posed by John Pierce’s representation of three of them that would have to precede any plea discussions. Zach Rehl’s co-travelers also remain charged by complaint (and just misdemeanors, too); in February the government got a continuance until April. Jeff Finley, who also with Rehl and the others for part of the day, got a continuance in February until late March, to allow for “continued discussions about the case.” [Corrected to note Finley is a PB] Gabriel Garcia, who seemed to be one of the most useful people reporting back so others could coordinate from outside the riot, seems headed for trial by himself.

Father Jeremy and son Jeffrey Grace remain in uncertain status, too. After dad got busted for paling around with Proud Boys last summer, they’ve been in flux but still just charged (not even with each other!) with trespassing. In February Jeffrey’s case got continued until St. Patricks Day and Jeremy’s got continued to April.

Meanwhile, on Friday, Ricky Willden set a change of plea hearing for April 7, pretty far in advance as these things go. Because he was charged directly with indictment, it’s not clear what the government knows, but he has ties to the Proud Boys and others.

The inconsistent references

In addition to the three Person-Numbers, this indictment refers to people by all manner of convention.

It names Stewart Rhodes in describing the meeting he had with Tarrio in a parking garage after Tarrio was released from jail on January 5.

Then there are multiple people described as “an individual whose identity is known to the grand jury,” the most interesting of whom is the person who shared a 9-page document about occupying key buildings in DC.

But that’s also the way the indictment describes Ryan Samsel before explaining that he, “put one arm around BIGGS’s shoulder and spoke to him” before be broke through the first barrier in front of the Capitol. On Friday, Jia Cobb (who took over the Samsel case from Tim Kelly when several people were added), ordered Samsel transported from the State Jail in Pennsylvania he had been in to a the Federal jail where DC jail residents had been moved to. Since Samsel has been charged, there’s no reason not to name him, just as Rhodes is named.

Where is Trump

As I noted earlier, there’s no mention of Enrique Tarrio’s visit to the White House in December. The White House claimed that was no big deal, and maybe it is.

But this indictment also leaves out all mention of Proud Boys, including Tarrio, playing on Trump’s Stand Back and Stand By comment.

Where is the obstruction charge?

In some ways, this indictment charges more aggressively than the earlier one. As other indictments have, it swaps the 18 USC 371 conspiracy (with a maximum sentence of 5 years) for an 18 USC 1512(k) conspiracy (with a maximum sentence of 20 years).

It charges all the men for the assaults originally charged just against Donohoe and Pezzola.

But it doesn’t include an obstruction charge for Tarrio, in spite of his explicit efforts to prevent others from cooperating, recordings of which were publicly released.

Where does this go from here?

I’ve been expecting and predicting this indictment since December 28. But for the life of me, I’m not sure where DOJ expects to go from here.

This indictment describes the numbers of people massed at several stages of the operation. 65 members on the Ministry of Self Defense (MOSD) Members Group. 90 people in the New MOSD members group created on January 4. Approximately 100 Proud Boys who met at the Washington Memorial the morning of the attack. Donohoe bragging at 12:00PM on January 6 that “WE ARE WITH 200-300 PBS,” just before they kicked off the riot.

Perhaps this framework is meant to provide a way to implicate all those others, 300 people who agreed, by signing up, that they were following a plan that DOJ has now shown (and that Matthew Greene’s cooperation was designed to show) was a plan to occupy buildings from the start.

But otherwise, this still feels really dispersed, and the prosecution team (which consists of three visible members for the leadership conspiracy, including Erik Kenerson, Jason McCullough, and Luke Jones, and about four detailees from other offices for satellite cases; a fourth prosecutor who had been on the core cases, Christopher Berridge, left immediately after Greene pled) has a far harder caseload than the significantly larger team on the Oath Keepers.

Perhaps something will really start to crystalize as some of these continuances end in April. Or perhaps DOJ will be serially prosecuting Proud Boys for the foreseeable future.

46 replies
  1. BobCon says:

    “Or perhaps DOJ will be serially prosecuting Proud Boys for the foreseeable future.”

    I have to wonder if part of the issue with 1/6 prosecutions and the PBs is the more they dig, the more they uncover beyond the scope of 1/6.

  2. WilliamOckham says:

    The whole thing seems interim to me. If so, why now? What’s in there they wanted out? I don’t get it.

    • gulageten says:

      Maybe he was getting ready to flee? I bet we learn more soon.

      I wonder if the WP feature on Stone over the weekend shook some things up, whether for the perps or the prosecutors…

    • emptywheel says:

      One reason is bc the rump Pezzola indictment was all-but dead. So they needed to include Pezz here.

      Another is bc Kelly was about to (today) make decisions about whether a May trial was still feasible. It’s not, now that Tarrio is in it (the defendants were saying it wasn’t anyway, or at least Rehl was).

      If I’m right that the April continuances are coordinated then that may explain it–use this frame to get a lot of people to plead.

      And, hell, maybe they’re getting close to Roger and needed this in place first.

      • Savage Librarian says:

        I’m glad you mentioned Stone. Apparently Joel Greenberg was one of the clients he had trying to get a pardon from Trump. I can’t help but wonder if there was more than a monetary interest for Stone in his Greenberg connection.

        One of Greenberg’s friends may have a weird connection to Lukashenko in Belarus:

        “Investigators Scrutinize Joel Greenberg Ally with Eastern European Ties” – 7/6/21

        • Leoghann says:

          Fascinating, especially with how interwoven all these people are. After the first four paragraphs, I felt like I needed to wash my face and hands.

        • Mulder says:

          Thanks for the link. That is a Florida worthy story. It cited ABC News that a decision in the Gaetz case was expected around that time (7/21). Wheels grinding slowly…

          • Leoghann says:

            I read that Forensic News article with interest. Note that it said “a decision,” rather than talking about arrests. We know that Gaetz’ ex-girlfriend was offered immunity in January of this year. Similar to the Proud Bois’ interconnectedness, the Greenberg case seems to have tentacles everywhere.

        • timbo says:

          Geez. Yeah, those folks seem to maybe violating FARA all over the place. I mean, how do you become a consulate contact person if you aren’t an agent of Belarus?

  3. N.E. Brigand says:

    “The White House claimed that was no big deal, and maybe it is.”

    A few days after the White House said that Tarrio only visited the White House as part of a public Christmas tour and didn’t meet with any Trump administration officials, Salon published a piece with some questions:

    “White House public tours are self-guided, and anyone who wants one, including Christmas tours, must apply no fewer than 21 days ahead of their booking date because the application includes a security form and background check. Hopefuls with a felony are generally denied, a former Trump White House official told Salon, unless a senior member of the administration intervenes.

    In 2013, Tarrio, also known as Henry Tarrio Jr, was convicted of two class C, one class D and one class E felonies for stealing and reselling $1.2 million worth of diabetes test strips from Abbott Labs, and served 16 months in federal prison. Court records show that he was released in December 2014 with two years probation, and ordered to pay restitution for the full $1.2 million.”


    Does anyone know if the article is correct about White House procedures?

    • Ravenclaw says:

      There does not seem to be an explicit rule banning ex-convicts. Requests for tours are submitted through one’s Congressperson; 21 days is the bare minimum lead time. There may be a security form to fill out once the request has been passed along, but it looks like it may be pretty bare-bones (name, date of birth, SSN). Anecdotally, some people have posted that they have witnessed others being blocked at the door due to past convictions, while others (with prior felonies) have posted that they had no problems. My *guess* is that it’s inconsistent, that whoever reviews a given application exercises some judgment as to how ‘risky’ the person is.

    • Charles Wolf says:

      FL recently went through a lot of trouble to make sure felons who hadn’t paid their fees and fines couldn’t vote. (All felons or just FL felons?)
      Tarrio lives in FL. Has he paid his $1.2M fine?
      … and if not has he voted recently?

    • xy xy says:

      So the government is paying out m(b?)illions for covid tests but doesn’t give a crap about diabetics?
      And then there’s the Pfizer CEO talking about Kuschner wanting to have US take other countries’ supplies.
      Damn it’s a pandemic. Nationalize the damn world supply as it’s us taxpayers that paid for the vaccine.

      • Leoghann says:

        Is this your non sequitur for the day? What the fuck do covid tests and insulin have to do with Henry Tarrio? This is one of the favorite tools of Russian trolls to disrupt discussion.

  4. BobCon says:

    I don’t know about 2020, but in earlier years congressional offices had a quota of passes they could distribute for White House tours.

    During the Obama administration it was also possible for White House staff to take guests on personal tours after a basic screening, but I don’t know how the rules worked during the Trump years.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if the 1/6 Committee has crosschecked the Tarrio report against the reports of the odd tours of the Capitol that happened early in 2021.

  5. Retired guy says:

    Interesting questions.

    A useful comparison with the OK superseding indictments. The OK path, IIRC, was gradually adding defendants and charges, then splitting into leaders (seditious conspiracy) and newbies/followers (just conspiracy) . This split is suggested to be based on who participated in the QRFs, but there may be other reasons to concentrate the leaders.

    This new PB indictment paints a more detailed picture of the top down planning. I had assumed that the architecture of the two different groups of militias (OK and PB) was different, hence the prosecution approach variations. I’m not so sure, as it appears they both moved to a higher state of very similar top-down planning after Dec 18.

    Perhaps more important than what is happening with Milkshake and Pepe, would be the question of what is happening with Chrestman et al. Been very quiet for a long time, and there hasn’t been a trial date assigned, that I recall.

    Also, this new PB indictment will likely defer the currently planned trial date for Nordean et al., currently in June. This might be an interim superseding indictment to postpone the trial, leaving breathing room for an additional superseding indictment to tell the final story prosecutors want to take to trial.

    Perhaps coincidentally, the Reffitt trial and this new PB indictment fall in the same week. Amateur speculation: prosecutors learned a lot (how to tell this story to a jury) preparing for the Reffitt trial, and by last week, may have built new confidence in getting the obstruction of an official proceeding to a successful jury verdict, even before the verdict. Continuing amateur speculation, prosecutors may have held off on the new PB indictment, to produce a one-two shock. Nordean et al. will be back in court soon to plead to the new indictment. The shock is that challenging obstruction of an official proceeding doesn’t work in front of at least one jury, and the “I didn’t do anything wrong,, and this is a witch hunt” defense looks less promising.

    This new PB indictment also quickly follows the Rhodes indictment, which appears headed to trial.

    Another thought: I read one story of the “person known to the grand jury” person references kind of fit Roger Stone. I’ll look more closely next time I wade through the indictment.

  6. N.E. Brigand says:

    OT but presumably of interest here. Everyone probably remembers this Nov. 10, 2016 Reuters article:

    “Russia says it was in touch with Trump’s campaign during election”

    With this lede:

    “The Russian government was in touch with members of President-elect Donald Trump’s political team during the U.S. election campaign and knows most of his entourage, one of Russia’s most senior diplomats told the Interfax news agency on Thursday.

    Accused by defeated Democratic contender Hillary Clinton of being a puppet of President Vladimir Putin after praising the Russian leader, Trump has dismissed suggestions he had anything to do with the Russian government during the campaign.

    But in comments that could prove politically awkward for the president-elect, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said there had indeed been some communications.

    ‘There were contacts,’ Interfax cited Ryabkov as saying. ‘We are doing this and have been doing this during the election campaign.'”

    But maybe these paragraphs have been forgotten:

    “Interfax reported on Wednesday that Dmitry Peskov, Putin’s spokesman, would be in New York this week for a chess tournament, a few blocks from Trump Tower, where the president-elect has his office.

    But it cited Peskov as saying he did not plan to pass any message to Trump from Putin.”

    The chess tournament was of sufficient interest to Robert Mueller’s team that the written questions his investigation submitted to Donald Trump included one about whether Trump remembered being invited to the event and whether or not he attended. (Trump answered that he didn’t remember an invitation and didn’t attend.) Mueller’s report says that Kirill Dmitriev, the head of the Russian Direct Investment Fund (whose entry in Mueller’s list of referenced persons mentions only two other events: the Jan. 2017 meeting with Erik Prince in the Seychelles, and a “U.S.-Russia reconciliation plan” he co-wrote in late 2016 / early 2017 with Rick Gerson, an associate of Jared Kushner, who shared the plan with other members of the Trump administration), invited George Nader to attend the competition and asked Nader to invite Jared Kushner to attend as well. Nader told Mueller’s team that he didn’t share the invitation with Kushner.

    Well, according to the charges the Dept. of Justice announced here today:

    It turns out that “on or about” the day that Reuters story posted, Elena Branson, today charged as an unregistered agent for Russia (and since fled to that country), also “emailed an adviser to the now-former President of the United States (‘Adviser-1’), expressing congratulations for their victory in the presidential election and attaching an invitation to the World Chess Championship addressed to the then-President-elect.” But the complaint adds that “there is no indication” that Trump attended the event. Still, now were know that there were at least two attempts to get Trump or his people to this Nov. 2016 event where Peskov was in attendance. Mueller’s report sure gives the impression of a weird dance between Peskov and the Trump people across 2016. Remember that Michael Cohen was very keen to be in touch with Peskov early that year regarding Trump Tower Moscow (and as many people will recall, in another answer Trump provided to Mueller, he cited published reports about Cohen having emailed the wrong person as supposedly proving that the outreach never got very far).

    I haven’t been able to keep up with Ms. Wheeler’s studies on what has subsequently unredacted in the Mueller report. In the paragraph on p. 149 about the chess tournament, there were some redacted bits citing “investigative technique,” including the name of someone whom Dmitriev contacted late on election night. Has that part already been unredacted? If not, is there a chance that it was Branson who was mentioned there?

  7. Eureka says:

    They’re also inconsistent in their Person numbering from (relevant) doc to doc (I don’t recall this happening with the OK team), which may have led to that UCC-1/Person 1 text-chat labeling error I’d identified awhile back.

    My instant intuition for the provider to Tarrio of the “nine-page document titled, “1776 Returns.”” was Ali Alexander (or, less likely because of rank, his Lt. Michael Coudry).

    Some suspect Person Three to be the same person I had referred to here (from prior to Rehl’s arrest last year) as Big Carhartt Guy (carrying the long-stun-device-looking weapon, video/description: His hashtag is MagpulPB (name and region known). I have not seen where anyone has identified this device he carries.

    • skua says:

      Twitter video just shows as a jpeg to me. And no stills on Google Images showing MagpulPB device. Happy to search if you provide a link.
      WAG: https:LINKBREAK//

      • Eureka says:

        Huh, that’s weird — the twitter video still plays for me (double-check which link you followed, should be the one at bottom of that comment to HannahAllam/status/1349329300235943936). You are correct that it’s hard to find images of him with the device (e.g. none under the hashtag).

        The device/item looks like a multi-segmented stick with pincer- or tongs-like end.

        Another place you can see pix of him, _some_ of which include the device [in various places like hand; sometimes stuffed in front sweatshirt pocket (IMO); and _possibly_ the item attached (holstered) to R hip], = at https[.]://[.]

        But I still think the @HannahAllam twitter clip gives you a better flavor if you can get it to work.

        • skua says:

          That HannahAllam link works perfect. Thanks. Four seconds in shows it.
          Looks about 350mm /14″ long, black, with 2 prongs on front end and solid back end. May be a modification of the diy “human cattle prod” at https:LINKBREAK//

          • Eureka says:

            Interesting possibility, thanks for looking. I wasn’t able to find a match among off-the-shelf cattle products when poking around back in the day but maybe Leoghann below is on to something re pig-related devices.

            • Geoguy says:

              I looked at that gizmo pretty carefully in full screen video. It might not have pincers or tongs on the end. It looks like it’s folded over and held with a strap. The business end might be under his hand; maybe a small whip or riding crop.

              • Eureka says:

                I see what you mean — there’s a few points from 0:03-0:04 where the end looks separated but those instances appear to be illusions from reflection/angle (like when it’s against the yellow chair legs & someone’s jeans). Thanks.

                Unfortunately no quality eyesight is required for this bball game on tv. Turrible. Just turrible.

      • Eureka says:

        IKR- the delusional bossiness was the giveaway. That Tarrio replied to the person respectfully (in deference to, say, a floridly-detailed, shared Stone+ connection) gives me appetite for more to come. Besides whatever may be on deck for the BIG large man.

    • Leoghann says:

      Magpul is a manufacturer of firearm accessories, such as specialized grips, clip-on attachments for magazines, scopes, etc. Almost all are made of polymer. It’s based in Austin, but they sell products world wide. That forked prod thing would not be one of their products. I watched a few times, but couldn’t figure out why he’s called “MagputPB.” Maybe Magpul is on his hat? I dunno.

      The only place I’ve seen a device like that is with livestock people who work with pigs. Apparently the fact that it’s easily carried, doesn’t require a holster, and can be used in close contact, makes a difference in working with large, more intelligent animals. They supposedly pack quite a wallop. A charge from that would be a very effective surprise to an adversary in close quarters.

        • Eureka says:

          I’ve also wondered if his device is not a US-based or stateside-common product, and/or if it is some type of quaint mercenary-ware.

  8. sleutherone says:

    According to Raw Story, they agree that person-1 is Bertino. They report he had his home searched the same day Tarrio was arrested. He apparently has not been indicted yet. More detail is available in the story.
    https://www.rawstory. com/jeremy-bertino/

  9. harpie says:

    re: 40. WHY did PEZZOLA have to visit BOTH North and South Carolina to bring the decorative shield to PERSON-1 [possibly Jeremy Bertino]

    • Leoghann says:

      There’s a 100% chance that Bertino wasn’t the only PB in the Carolinas. If Spaz was going to travel that far to present his tribute-kindergarten art project to Noble Beard (Bertino’s PB handle), he would probably visit others across the state line.

      • harpie says:

        Yes, and a couple of other things:
        -Pezzola was just “one of the guys” traveling to NC/SC on 12/30 and 12/31/20.
        – The other person/people they connected with may not have been PB’s.

        • harpie says:

          I wonder if they were anywhere near Lin Wood’s plantations.
          I really don’t know for sure how long FLYNN/POWELL et al were there, so if anyone can get that info, I’d appreciate it. :-)

          • sleutherone says:

            From what I can tell, Flynn was there around Thanksgiving of 2020. He carved the turkey! He apparently only stayed a short time. Powell visited more often.
            https://www.cnbc. com/2021/12/30/pro-trump-lawyer-says-his-plantations-were-go-to-spots-for-election-conspiracy-theorists.html

            • harpie says:

              Yes, thanks! That’s what I remembered about FLYNN … “through Thanksgiving”…so most likely not in this timeframe…

  10. harpie says:

    Recently, there’s this voice in my head just screaming FLYNNFLYNNFLYNNFLYNN!!!!!

    So, that’s why I’m posting this, [retweeted by JJ Macnab]:

    Why I Left the Intelligence Community Dan Gilmore 3/10/22

    […] I’ve been on four contracts at NSA since 1999. I joined my last contract on February 8th, 2010, working for an organization named Intelink. You can read the Wiki page about the organization, but I can sum it up for you: We basically took what was popular on the Internet and recreated it on government systems. […]

    What happened? How or why did it get out of hand?
    There was no moderation or enforcement of our ToU. Management would try to get involved, then upper management would say otherwise. It was easier to ignore the problems than to address them. That made it easier for trolls to get more and more powerful.

    Fast forward to late 2020. Hate speech was running rampant on our applications. I’m not being hyperbolic. Racist, homophobic, transphobic, Islamaphobic, and misogynistic speech was being posted in many of our applications.

    On top of that, there were many employees at CIA, DIA, NSA, and other IC agencies that openly stated that the January 6th terrorist attack on our Capitol was justified. […]

    There are a LOT of people we’ve been talking about in regard to #J6TL who were a part of the IC during this time period.

  11. Eureka says:

    This is hysterical. So, BREAKING NEWS that Carter Walker of Lancaster Online has IDed Person 3 in the indictment:

    Person 3 is a Proud Boy who uses the alias “Johnny Blackbeard,” LNP |Lancaster Online was able to confirm. Information found online shows that the alias belongs to John Charles Stewart, a Carlisle resident who was first identified as a member of the Harrisburg Proud Boys chapter in a data leak last summer from the web hosting platform Epik.

    (internal link removed)

    Now, towards the comedy:

    LNP was able to connect Blackbeard to Stewart in a number of ways. First, former Lehigh Valley Proud Boys Vice President Richard Schwetz told LNP on Friday that Johnny Blackbeard is the Carlisle Proud Boy who was the subject of the federal search warrant.

    He declined to provide Blackbeard’s real name, though he said he had known him “for years.”

    Schwetz is the one who tried to make a fake J6 alibi for Rehl, posting to Parler:

    I want to thank @ZachRehl for attending our Harrisburg Rally on the 6th of Jan from 8 am until 6 pm […text continues; photo of many, not including Rehl]

    (screenshot source via link in old thread linked above)

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