A former Proud Boys leader who helped the government investigate and prosecute other members of the far-right group involved in the attack on the Capitol on January 6, 2021, was sentenced Tuesday to 40 months in prison for his own role in the assault.
His sentence slightly exceeded the nearly 38 months he has served since his arrest following the riots, meaning he will be released in just over two months.
Former leader Charles Donohoe was the first member of the Proud Boys to cooperate with prosecutors and was sentenced for participating in the attack on the Capitol.
While Donohoe, who once led a chapter of the Proud Boys in North Carolina, never testified publicly against any of his compatriots, his sentence reflected the value prosecutors placed on his help. His cooperation contributed, among other things, to four members of the organization, including its former president, Enrique Tarrio, being convicted of seditious conspiracy this spring.
In a two-hour hearing in U.S. District Court in Washington, Donohoe, a 35-year-old former Marine, lamented the role he played in the storming of the Capitol and said he knew from the beginning that his actions were illegal.
“I would like to apologize to America as a whole,” he said, adding that his struggle with addiction had clouded his judgment in the run-up to the riots.
Prosecutors said little about his cooperation agreement, focusing instead on his leadership role in the Proud Boys and his contributions to the group's planning before the riot.
Judge Timothy J. Kelly echoed those concerns, noting that Mr. Donahoe's participation in the conspiracy organized by the Proud Boys was a departure from an otherwise civic life, which included military service in Iraq and Afghanistan.
“That is the nature of conspiracies,” Judge Kelly said. “They're not one-time mistakes, they're ongoing mistakes over time.”
The Proud Boys were among President Donald J. Trump's most vocal supporters after his loss in the 2020 election, taking center stage at a series of Stop the Steal rallies in Washington after Trump's loss.
The group also played a critical role in advancing the violence that erupted at the Capitol on Jan. 6, helping lead the pro-Trump mob to break barricades and attack police.
Donohoe was on the leadership team of the so-called Ministry of Self-Defense, a group of Proud Boys selected by Tarrio to be at the forefront of the attack on the Capitol. Prosecutors say Donohoe joined the group's efforts to advance toward the building, and at one point he took a police riot shield that another Proud Boys member, Dominic Pezzola, had snatched from an officer.
Donohoe also sent messages from the front to other leaders, including “a real-time video report” that some Proud Boys had “stormed the Capitol” just before 1 p.m., prosecutors said.
After the attack, Donohoe sent other messages celebrating the riot and declaring that the day's events made him “feel like a complete warrior,” prosecutors said.
Donohoe was charged in March 2022 along with other Proud Boys leaders, including Tarrio, with joining a conspiracy to obstruct the certification of the election that was taking place inside the Capitol on January 6.
A month later, he pleaded guilty and agreed to cooperate with federal prosecutors, one of several Proud Boys members who ultimately turned against their allies.
Internal FBI records show that federal agents made a concerted effort to recruit cooperators during their extensive investigation of the far-right group. Two former Proud Boys, Matthew Greene and Jeremy Bertino, testified on behalf of the government in the sedition trial, telling jurors about the mindset of the organization's leaders in the run-up to Jan. 6 and about the group's obsession with physical violence.
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