WASHINGTON (AP) — A former leader of the far-right Proud Boys extremist group was sentenced to more than three years in prison Tuesday for his part in a plot to attack the U.S. Capitol nearly three years ago.
Charles Donohoe was the second Proud Boy to plead guilty Conspiring with other group members Disrupt the joint session of January 6, 2021 of Congress to certify President Joe Biden's election victory. His conviction could be a wake-up call for other Proud Boys conspirators who have agreed to cooperate with federal prosecutors.
Donohoe, 35, of Kernersville, North Carolina, apologized to his family, the law-enforcement officers protecting the Capitol and "all of America" for his actions on January 6.
He said, "I knew from that moment on that what I was doing was illegal."
U.S. District Judge Timothy Kelly sentenced him to three years and four months in prison. Donohoe could be eligible for release in a month or two as he gets credit for time spent in jail after his March 2021 arrest.
The judge said it appeared Donohoe was making every effort to reform his crimes.
"I think you have all the ingredients to put this behind you," Kelly said.
Donohoe was the president of a local Proud Boys chapter in North Carolina. He was the lieutenant of Enrique Tarrio, former national president of the Proud Boys, who was sentenced to 22 years in prison - The longest jail term so far in a Capitol riot case.
Donohoe agreed to cooperate with federal authorities when he pleaded guilty in April 2020 to two felony counts: conspiracy to obstruct an official proceeding and assaulting, resisting or obstructing police. But he was not called to testify in the trial of Tarrio and other Proud Boys earlier this year.
Prosecutors recommended a prison sentence of 35 to 43 months for Donohoe. Sentencing guidelines recommend a prison term of 70 to 87 months.
"Donohoe and his co-conspirators organized and led a small army as they attacked the heart of our democracy. They took these actions because they did not like the results of the election." Prosecutors wrote in a court filing.
A New York man, Matthew Green, was the first Proud Boys member to plead guilty to the conspiracy. Green's sentencing hearing has not yet been scheduled.
Justice Department prosecutor Jason McCullough told the judge that Donohoe acted as "the eyes and ears of the group on the ground" in Washington, D.C., on January 6. But prosecutors argued that Donohoe deserves credit for his early acceptance of responsibility and cooperation with the investigation.
On the morning of January 6, Donohoe marched to the Capitol with more than 100 members of the Proud Boys. He could not enter the Capitol, but he threw two water bottles at officers confronting the mob outside the building.
Donohoe, a U.S. Marine Corps veteran who served on two deployments to Iraq, has "curiously divorced himself" from the Proud Boys, said defense attorney Ira Knight.
"It took time for Charlie to understand the nature of his mistake," Knight said.
Copyright 2023 The associated Press, All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.