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Proud Boys member pleads guilty for role in Capitol riot

Insurrectionists loyal to President Donald Trump swarm the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.
John Minchillo
Insurrectionists loyal to President Donald Trump swarm the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.

Updated December 22, 2021 at 7:24 PM ET

Matthew Greene, a self-proclaimed member of the far-right group known as the Proud Boys, has pleaded guilty in federal court in Washington, D.C., to two criminal charges: conspiracy and obstruction of an official proceeding, related to the Capitol siege on Jan. 6, 2021.

The plea deal pledges Greene's cooperation with the sprawling Jan. 6 criminal probe in exchange for a reduced prison sentence and the dismissal of several other charges that had been pending against him. Greene could help investigators understand more about the activities of the Proud Boys' central New York chapter before and during the insurrection. He had been indicted alongside Dominic Pezzola, who broke a U.S. Capitol window with a police shield to enter the building that day; and William Pepe, a Metro Transit employee who took sick leave to attend the Jan. 6 rally.

Greene, of Syracuse, N.Y., was arrested in April and has been detained in government custody for months. Greene, 34, appeared via video before Judge Timothy Kelly Wednesday afternoon. Asked if he wanted to give up his right to a jury trial and plead guilty, Greene replied, "I do, your honor." Greene's lawyer said he had no prior criminal history.

Judge Kelly said under federal sentencing guidelines, Greene could face between 41 months and 51 months in prison, with a fine between $15,000 and $150,000. Federal prosecutors said they could seek to file a motion for additional sentencing reductions if Greene provides a "substantial" amount of help with the January 6th probe.

Prosecutor Erik Kenerson asked the judge to set a sentencing date on March 10, 2022, with the option of moving that date based on Greene's cooperation.

Greene has already had "very detailed discussions" with authorities, his lawyer said

It appeared Greene had been helping authorities for some time. His attorney, Michael Kasmarek, told the judge that he'd had the opportunity to engage in "very detailed discussions about all aspects of this case."

In an email, Kasmarek told NPR that for Greene, the plea was "an important step in taking responsibility for his actions."

"He is a person of high moral character, who served our country honorable, and has made countless positive contributions to our community and his family," Kasmarek added.

The precise scope of Greene's assistance to the January 6th investigation, the biggest criminal probe in Justice Department history, is not yet clear. But at minimum, he could explain inner workings of the Proud Boys and help shore up the cases against Pezzola and Pepe. Both men have pleaded not guilty.

In a statement, Steven Metcalf, an attorney for Pezzola, said Greene's actions "should not have any indication, or implication on Mr. Pezzola's position." Greene's statement was "was neither evidence of Mr. Pezzola's guilt nor will it change our position going forward," Metcalf said in the statement.

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Carrie Johnson is a justice correspondent for the Washington Desk.

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