SEATTLE — A federal judge has refused to throw out an indictment charging four alleged leaders of the far-right Proud Boys with conspiring to attack the U.S. Capitol to stop Congress from certifying President Joe Biden’s electoral victory.
U.S. District Judge Timothy Kelly on Tuesday rejected defense attorneys’ arguments that Ethan Nordean, also known as Rufio Panman of Auburn; Joseph Biggs, Zachary Rehl and Charles Donohoe are charged with conduct that is protected by the First Amendment right to free speech.
Nordean, a so-called "Sergeant of Arms" of the Proud Boys' Seattle chapter was indicted on federal charges earlier this year for his role in the Jan. 6 U.S. Capitol breach. He was arrested in February.
Federal investigators say Nordean was "in charge" on Jan. 6.
Federal investigators say the group encouraged other Proud Boys to travel to Washington D.C. and tried to destroy evidence of their conversations on message boards days before the riot. Donohue, who was also indicted, created a new communication channel on Jan. 4 and took steps to "nuke" the old one after the Proud Boys' chairman was arrested, according to court documents.
At one point the Proud Boys were told to follow the command of Nordean.
One online message from an unindicted co-conspirator on Jan. 5 read, “Rufio is in charge, cops are the primary threat, don't get caught by them or BLM, don't get drunk until off the street."
Nordean is in federal custody pending trial.
The case against Nordean, Biggs, Rehl and Donohoe is a focus of the Justice Department’s sprawling investigation of the Jan. 6 insurrection.