The leader of a North Carolina chapter of the Proud Boys extremist group pleaded guilty on Friday to conspiring to block the congressional certification of President Joe Biden’s victory and assaulting law enforcement on Jan. 6.
Charles Donohoe, who now faces up to 11 years imprisonment, has agreed to cooperate with the federal government pursuant to his plea deal. Prosecutors agreed to recommend a sentence between 70 to 80 months imprisonment, roughly between six and seven years.
The expansive cooperation agreement says it “may include, but will not necessarily be limited to: answering questions; providing sworn written statements; taking government-administered polygraph examination(s); and participating in covert law enforcement activities.”
According to the agreement, Donohoe also “shall testify fully, completely and truthfully before any and all grand juries in the District of Columbia and elsewhere, and at any and all trials of cases or other court proceedings in the District of Columbia and elsewhere,” where prosecutors deem his testimony relevant.
If Donohoe refuses to cooperate “fully, truthfully, completely and forthrightly,” the government says it will consider him in breach of the agreement. His statement of offense ties him directly to the group’s leader Enrique Tarrio, whose name appears in the document 30 times.
“Hand-Selected ‘Rally’ Boys”
Donohoe, a 34-year-old from Kernersville, N.C., became the president of his local chapter of the Proud Boys in 2018. The self-described “Western Chauvinist” group has been labeled a terrorist organization by the Canadian government, and extremism watchdogs regularly classify it as a hate group.
First charged in March 2021, Donohoe was added to a superseding indictment a year later with Tarrio. His other co-defendants included Ethan Nordean, Joseph Biggs, Zachary Rehl, and Dominic Pezzola, who all faced several federal charges.
Donohoe had been staring down seven charges, including conspiring to obstruct an official proceeding, obstructing an official proceeding, obstructing law enforcement during a civil disorder, destroying government property, and assaulting police officers. His plea deal allowed him to admit only to two of those charges.
U.S. District Judge Timothy Kelly, a Donald Trump appointee, accepted his guilty pleas to the conspiracy and assault counts on Friday.
In a signed statement of offense, Donohoe repeatedly agrees to being an eyewitness to Tarrio’s organizing of the Proud Boys through the so-called Ministry of Self-Defense (MOSD), a group through which the group coordinated on Jan. 6.
“Donohoe understood from Tarrio that the new chapter would be focused on he planning and execution of national rallies and would consist of hand-selected ‘rally’ boys,” the statement of Donohoe’s agreed-upon offense reads. “Donohoe felt privileged to be included and agreed to participate.”
On Dec. 20, Tarrio created an encrypted chat room for leaders of that group, which included Nordean, Biggs, Rehl, and Donohoe, prosecutors say. Donohoe says that the group started talking about plans for Jan. 6 immediately.
“Donohoe understood that the purpose of the rally in Washington, D.C., on January 6, 2021, was to stop the certification of the Electoral College vote,” the statement of the offense reads.
“This Comes from the Top”
On Dec. 27, Donohoe agrees that he posted in the following message in a chat room spinning off of that group and MOSD Prospect Group: “They want to limit the presence so that they can deny Trump has the People’s support. We can’t let them succeed. This government is run FOR the People, BY the People….Congress needs a reintroduction to that fact.”
Prosecutors say that the group tried to cover its tracks by forming new groups and deleting old chats as the storming of the U.S. Capitol grew closer.
On Jan. 6, Donohoe said he told the other leaders, “Each one of us should personally clear our history of that MOSD chat,” and that Rehl responded, “you gotta manually delete each message from each chat.”
“Donohoe then created a new group on the encrypted messaging application for the MOSD members and advised the group to leave the earlier group because ‘we are nuking that one,'” the statement of offense reads.
“At 7:15 p.m. on January 4, Donohoe posted a message on the New MOSD Member Group that read, ‘Hey have been instructed and listen to me real good! There is no planning of any sorts. I need to be put into whatever new thing is created. Everything is compromised and we can be looking at Gang charges,'” it continues. “Donohoe then wrote, ‘Stop everything immediately’ and then ‘This comes from the top.'”
Donohoe says he and his fellow Proud Boys marched to the Capitol on Jan. 6.
“Shortly after throwing the water bottles at officers, Donohoe encountered Pezzola,” the statement reads. “Donohoe recognized Pezzola as a Proud Boys member and confirmed that fact with another Proud Boys member. Donohoe then grabbed the riot shield that Pezzola was holding and led Pezzola to the rear of the West Plaza. After reaching the rearof the concrete area of the West Plaza, Donohoe posted a message to MOSD leaders at 1:37 p.m. that read, “Got a riot shield.” While standing at the rear of the plaza, Donohoe took a picture of Pezzola holding the riot shield and making a hand gesture associated with the Proud Boys.”
In his statement, Donohoe made clear that he admitted to assaulting law enforcement.
“Donohoe intended to use force and did, in fa ct, use force to obstruct, impede, or interfere with the certification of the Electoral College vote, and did forcibly assault, resist, oppose, impede, intimidate, or interfere with, officers or employees of the United States,” it says.
Read the plea agreement and statement of offense, below:
(Photo via DOJ)
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