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The Capitol riot defendants are turning on each other and outing Proud Boys leadership

Submitted by Tech Insider on April 8, 2021 - 1:44am

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The brotherhood of the Proud Boys is falling apart, as more than one of the Capitol riot defendants has turned on the group's leadership. 

According to a CNN report, prosecutors have struck deals with more than one Capitol riot defendant. In exchange for plea deals, cooperators may have to work with the Justice Department and prosecutors to build stronger cases and bring more serious charges against the pro-Trump far-right extremist group's leaders.

This is not the first indication that there might be disloyalty within the Proud Boys' ranks. 

In March, Proud Boys leader Joseph Biggs — who reportedly was one of the first to clamber through a smashed window to get into the Capitol building — broke with the Proud Boys in a bid to escape being held in prison pending trial.

Lawyers for Biggs said in a court filing that he regularly spoke to the FBI and law enforcement agents to tell them about protests that he was involved in, and that these back-channels he had with the authorities should keep him out of jail. 

Enrique Tarrio, another well-known Proud Boys leader, was also revealed in February to have been working behind the scenes as an FBI informant. He was outed when Reuters published part of a 2014 court transcript, that said he was working undercover and was helping law enforcement crack drug and human trafficking cases. 

Other groups who banded together to storm the Capitol in January are also seeing instances where defendants refuse to hold the line, and are now considering trading information to escape indictment. 

Insider reported this week that prosecutors were negotiating a plea deal with Jon Schaffer — a heavy metal guitarist who was spotted storming the Capitol wearing an Oath Keepers hat, indicating his connection with the paramilitary group. 

According to a now-deleted confidential court filing that was erroneously uploaded but seen by BuzzFeed News and Politico, Schaffer was involved in "debrief interviews" with prosecutors. 

"Based on these debrief interviews, the parties are currently engaged in good-faith plea negotiations, including discussions about the possibility of entering into a cooperation plea agreement aimed at resolving the matter short of indictment," the filing said.

Criminal defense attorney Martin Tankleff told CNN that he thought it likely that more cooperators would come forward and turn against the Proud Boys, Oath Keepers, and other groups involved in the riot. 

"Whenever you have a large group of people arrested and in jail, prosecutors will typically observe the group and pressure defendants to flip on one another, Tankleff said. "They're going to start talking. They're going to start sharing information."

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