The leader of a North Carolina chapter of the far-right group Proud Boys pleaded guilty on Friday to conspiracy in connection with the violent assault on the US Capitol, and agreed to cooperate fully with the government in its ongoing investigation on the deadly events of Jan 6. 2021.
Charles Donohoe pleaded in a virtual hearing in federal court in Washington, D.C. The 34-year-old is one of six senior Proud Boys, including the group’s chairman, to be charged with conspiracy to obstruct Congressional certification of Joe Biden’s election victory.
The case against Proud Boys leaders is one of the highest-profile lawsuits to emerge from the Justice Department’s investigation into the Capitol Riot. Donohoe’s cooperation with investigators, as outlined in his plea agreement, could significantly strengthen prosecutors’ case against the remaining defendants and possibly inspire others to break their own agreements and cooperate.
Under the agreement, Donohoe pleaded guilty to conspiring to obstruct official process and assaulting, resisting or embarrassing an officer. The government agreed to drop the other charges against him in the indictment.
During Friday’s hearing, Judge Timothy Kelly asked Donohoe how he argued the two counts specified. In both cases, Donohoe calmly responded with one word: “Guilty.”
Donohoe knew of plans to use violence on Jan. 6, knew storming the Capitol was illegal
Donohoe joined the leadership of a new Proud Boys chapter called the Ministry of Self-Defense on Dec. 20, 2020, according to the ticket that accompanied his plea. The chapter, known as MOSD, focused on national rallies, including the one on January 6, 2021 in Washington DC.
Several of Donohoe’s co-defendants — Henry Enrique Tarrio, Ethan Nordean, Joseph Biggs, Zachary Rehl — held leadership positions in MOSD, court documents show. Donohoe worked regionally to recruit trusted Proud Boys into this specialized chapter.
As early as Jan. 4, 2021, “Donohoe was aware that members of the MOSD leadership were discussing the possibility of storming the Capitol,” according to court documents.
“Donohoe believed that storming the Capitol would accomplish the group’s goal of preventing the government from proceeding with the transfer of presidential power,” says the statement, which Donohoe testified under oath in court was correct. and exact. “Donohoe understood that storming the Capitol would be illegal.”
The document contains information about alleged actions Donohoe and the other defendants took prior to Jan. 6, including exchanging text messages on the eve of the rally about their plans.
Although Donohoe was not given details, known to several of his co-defendants, he gleaned the purpose was to interfere with certification of the Electoral College vote, according to the document.
“Donohoe understood from discussions that the group would pursue this through the use of force and violence, in order to show Congress that ‘we the people’ were in charge,” he said.
On the morning of January 6, Donohoe met with about 100 Proud Boys at the Washington Monument. From there, they marched to the Capitol, where the Proud Boys were among the first to break through the police lines guarding the compound. Donohoe threw two water bottles at a line of police.
He pushed with the crowd on the steps of the Capitol, but eventually backed down in the face of pepper balls fired by police, according to court documents.
The statement of offense includes numerous references to Donohoe’s co-defendants, including their specific roles in the planning for Jan. 6 as well as their actions on the day.
This information, along with other details Donohoe may be able to provide, could prove crucial to prosecutors in the larger case against Proud Boys leaders.
The case is one of many brought against members of the far-right group during the January 6 attack. In total, nearly 50 people with ties to the Proud Boys have been charged so far in the Capitol Riot investigation.
Two members of the group, Jeffrey Finley of West Virginia and Ricky Willden of California, also pleaded guilty to their own cases this week.