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Proud Boys defense attorney claims at least 40 undercover government agents and informants at Capitol riot, 'some appear to have played roles of instigators' on Jan. 6

Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

The defense attorney for a member of the Proud Boys claimed that there were at least 40 undercover government agents and informants operating at the Capitol riot on January 6, 2021.

Currently standing trial in Washington, D.C., are Proud Boys members Dominic Pezzola, Ethan Nordean, Joseph Biggs, Zachary Rehl, and Enrique Tarrio – the group's former leader.

Pezzola’s lawyer Roger Roots filed a motion requesting the government "reveal all informants, undercover operatives and other Confidential Human Sources (CHSs) relating to the events of January 6."

"The federal prosecutors in this case are refusing to disclose information regarding these non-FBI informants," Roots claims in the filing. "The existence, and likely conduct of these CHSs is almost certainly exculpatory for Pezzola."

"Pezzola has become aware that the largest numbers of undercover CHSs on Jan. 6 belonged to agencies other than the FBI," the filing reads. "At least two law enforcement agencies each outnumbered the FBI in terms of running undercover agents, informants, and CHSs on Jan. 6."

"First, the D.C. Metro Police had at least 13 undercover plain-clothes agents among the Proud Boys and other patriots on Jan. 6," the filing continues. "Next, there appear to have been some 19 CHSs on Jan. 6 belonging to an agency called HSI (Homeland Security Investigations)."

The filing states, "When added to the 8 FBI CHSs now acknowledged by the prosecutors, this means that there were at least forty (40) undercover informants or agents doing surveillance among defendants on January 6."

"Some of these undercover Metro officers marched with the Proud Boy march," the motion notes. "And some appear to have played roles of instigators, in that they are seen on body-worn videos chanting 'Go! Go!,' 'Stop the Steal!,' and 'Whose house? Our house!' on Jan. 6. Others generally followed demonstrators toward the Capitol."

Pezzola's lawyer asserts that the entire defense in this trial "would have been different, and much more aggressive, if the defense counsel had known of the scope and scale of undercover government operations on Jan. 6."

Roots also calls for Capitol riot instigator Ray Epps to be subpoenaed and says, "Defendants contend Mr. Epps is being suspiciously protected from prosecution by the government."

A spokesperson for the U.S. Attorney's Office in Washington, D.C., told Newsweek attorneys plan to respond to these issues in court.

Last month, the trial involving members of the Proud Boys was suspended after it was revealed that a witness expected to testify was previously a government informant.

According to court documents filed by defendant Zachary Rehl, an unnamed female FBI informant was "in contact via telephone, text messaging, and other electronic means, with one or more of the counsel for the defense and at least one defendant" between April 2022 and January 2023.

Prosecutors conceded that the witness had previously been paid by the FBI as a confidential informant.

Last month, an FBI informant embedded within the Proud Boys testified that the group had no plans to breach the Capitol. The man named "Aaron" also told his FBI handler on Jan. 6 that the Proud Boys members did not knock down police barriers.

A report from September 2021 alleged that the FBI had a secret informant embedded with members of the Proud Boys. However, the informant admitted that the group "had no plans to engage in violence" on Jan. 6, and there were no preplanned discussions of storming the U.S. Capitol building.

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