The Capitol riot defendants may be starting to turn on one another, outing far-right extremist leaders
- Numerous defendants in January's
Capitolriot are said to be turning on far-right groups.
- CNN reported Wednesday that at least one defendant agreed to work against the
- Court records indicate that several plea deals with cooperators may be in the works.
The brotherhood of the Proud Boys may be falling apart, as attorneys on the case say some of the Capitol riot defendants have turned or are considering turning on the leaders of the far-right extremist group.
A CNN report on Wednesday quoted an attorney as saying a Capitol riot defendant had agreed to flip against the Proud Boys. In exchange for plea deals, cooperating defendants may have to work with the Department of Justice and prosecutors to build stronger cases against the head honchos of far-right extremist groups.The extent of any cooperation with the DOJ and prosecutors is unclear, but CNN wrote that this was the strongest indication yet that one of the defendants was willing to work with authorities against the Proud Boys.
The Associated Press reported in February that another Proud Boy, Dominic Pezzola, was mulling a plea deal. Prosecutors accused Pezzola of snatching a police officer's riot shield and shattering a window at the Capitol to let rioters in.There is also a history of Proud Boys members working with law enforcement.
In March, attorneys for the Proud Boys leader Joseph Biggs - who authorities allege was one of the first to clamber through a smashed window to get into the Capitol during the January 6 insurrection - argued that he should not be held in jail pending trial. The lawyers said in a court filing that Biggs had regularly spoken with the FBI in recent months to provide information about protests he was involved in and that these back channels, as well as the information he provided, should keep him out of jail.Other groups linked to the storming of the Capitol are also seeing instances in which defendants are said to be 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.
"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.The criminal-defense attorney Martin Tankleff told CNN that he thought it likely that more cooperators would come forward and turn against the Proud Boys, the Oath Keepers, and other groups facing pressure from law enforcement since 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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