The leader of the Proud Boys’ North Carolina chapter pleaded guilty on Friday to felony charges relating to his part in the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol attack and agreed to cooperate with federal authorities – opening a door into the far-right group’s inner-workings.
Charles Donohoe, 34, took a deal that included pleading guilty to assaulting law enforcement officers and conspiracy to obstruct an official proceeding. The mob stormed Capitol grounds and breached the building during the formal certification of the 2020 presidential election, on the urging of former President Donald Trump.
At the time of the attack, Donohoe had reached the highest ranks of the Proud Boys, a fringe organization whose leaders are accused of helping plan the violence on Capitol Hill.
He is one of six leaders of the group to be arrested and charged in connection with the Capitol riot. All of the others have resisted cooperation with authorities; most recently, longtime Proud Boys head Enrique Tarrio pleaded not guilty to seven federal counts on Tuesday.
Prosecutors say that Donohoe was also involved in a division within the Proud Boys called the “Ministry of Self Defense,” created in December 2020. The division’s roughly 65 members allegedly planned actions to be taken at Trump’s Jan. 6 rally to stop the peaceful transfer of power from Trump to President Joe Biden.
Donohoe knew about the plan to storm the Capitol at least two days beforehand, according to prosecutors.
He allegedly joined the group of 100 or so Proud Boys who left the main rally around noon to assemble West of the Capitol in search of an opportunity to break in. Prosecutors say Donohoe threw two water bottles at law enforcement officers and later posted messages celebrating the attack in a Ministry of Self Defense message group.
He has been detained since his arrest in March 2021, and initially pleaded not guilty. A superseding indictment returned last month, however, ratcheted up the charges against him.
By cooperating with federal law enforcement and agreeing to turn over evidence, Donohoe is facing five to seven years behind bars on the assault charge and up to 20 years for the conspiracy charge.
Federal authorities have so far arrested nearly 800 people in relation to the Capitol attack, which left several people dead in its wake.