West Virginia’s Proud Boy pleads guilty to January 6 U.S. Capitol breach
A Martinsburg man associated with the Proud Boys organization pleaded guilty to breaking into the US Capitol on January 6, 2021.
Jeffery Finley pleaded guilty Wednesday in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. Documents filed in his file describe planning and interactions with the larger, looser Proud Boys organization.
The Proud Boys are often identified as a far-right group. During a debate in September 2020, when asked to denounce the militias, President Trump told members of the Proud Boys to “stand back and sit idly by.” Leaders of the Proud Boys face conspiracy charges beginning Jan. 6, and charging documents for Finley outline interactions with some of them.
Finley admits guilt of entering and remaining in a building or property with restricted access.
This could result in a maximum of one year in prison, a $100,000 fine and probation for up to one year. He will also have to pay a $500 fine, determined as his share of approximately $1.495 million in damages to the Capitol.
Finley had no previous criminal convictions and the plea agreement suggests he is likely to face a sentence of up to six months in prison. He agreed to the terms of the agreement, signing a section that specifically says, “I plead guilty because I am in fact guilty of the offenses identified in this agreement.”
Hundreds of people are now charged with the breach of the US Capitol on January 6.
A mob storming the United States Capitol that day disrupted the Electoral College’s constitutional obligation to count votes and prompted the evacuation of Representatives, Senators and Vice President Mike Pence. One woman was shot and killed as she tried to go up to the bedrooms, three others died of “medical emergencies” and more than 100 police officers were injured.
Finley’s statement of offense identifies him as “president of a West Virginia chapter of the Proud Boys”. The court filing goes on to state that “each chapter is anonymous and, as president of its chapter, Finley was the highest-ranking of its men.”
Documents filed in federal court show he joined an encrypted messaging group called “Boots on the Ground” on January 5 for Proud Boys members planning to attend events in Washington, D.C.
On the morning of January 6, according to federal court documents, Finley met at the Washington Monument with other Proud Boys from his chapter and others from around the country. All had been instructed, via the messaging group, to avoid wearing Proud Boys colors in black and yellow.
Federal investigators identified Finley through video footage and photographs after Jan. 6, according to charges originally filed in his case. His location was later determined through records linked to his cell phone.
Footage of Finley that day shows him in a blue suit, black shirt, red hat and glasses. He can be seen wearing a wired headset.
Investigators say he walked through a pedestrian gate and onto the Capitol grounds. “To Finley, there appeared to be a coordinated effort to tear down the barricades,” federal prosecutors wrote in his ticket.
As cellphone video captures his image again on the upper west terrace of the Capitol, Finley put on a face covering with a skull motif.
Finley enters through a door on the west side of the Capitol building around 2:54 p.m., this time shown by a security camera. “In doing so, Finley understood that law enforcement did not want people entering the Capitol,” according to federal documents. He came in around 2:55 p.m.
He walked around the Capitol, photographed himself near a desk, then left the Capitol.
Shortly after 5 p.m., according to federal documents, Finley posted a video message for other Proud Boys, describing with some profanity that he had taken pictures with his peers and was proud. He also described the security measures in place, saying “we literally can’t go back” and, with more profanity, “a crazy, crazy lockdown. If you go out, you don’t come back. It’s 100%.
Investigators corroborated Finley’s identification through a search warrant served on Google, revealing that a mobile device associated with Finley’s Gmail address was present at the Capitol that day. Similarly, a search warrant served on AT&T showed Finley’s cell phone rang at a cell site that provides service for an area including the interior of the United States Capitol Building.
Finley had used the phone to exchange at least one message with a member of his Proud Boys chapter, advising the member to meet him at the Capitol, according to federal documents. At 2:24 p.m., Finley also posted the message “On capital” to the cryptic message “Boots on the Ground” for members of the Proud Boys.
Federal documents suggest Finley took some steps to obstruct the investigation, deleting his social media accounts and deleting photos and videos of himself and other Proud Boys on Capitol Hill. He wrote in another cryptic message: ‘Deleted any photos I may have had, also advised my boys. No discussion of DC on Telegram whatsoever and collecting #s as we speak.
He was originally charged on March 21, 2021 with two counts: being in a restricted building without lawful permission and engaging in disorderly conduct in one of the Capitol buildings.
Several other West Virginians face charges for the events of that day. They include George Tanios, a Morgantown sandwich shop operator charged in the assault of three Capitol police officers with pepper spray, former state delegate Derrick Evans of Wayne County, who resigned after being indicted, and the superior of the Courtright University of Hurricane.
Courtright served a month in federal prison in Philadelphia and was released last week.
Evans pleaded guilty earlier this month to a civil disorder charge. A sentencing hearing has been set for June 26 at 12:30 p.m.
Tanios, is due to stand trial on June 6. Tanios is accused of collaborating in the assault of US Capitol police officers with pepper spray. The trial could be delayed after a recent filing on behalf of his co-defendant, Julian Khater, indicating serious negotiations over a plea deal.