The purported leader of the Proud Boys in West Virginia came into contact with many of the loosely-knit, right-wing group’s leaders during the Jan. 6 insurrection, according to documents filed in his case.
Jeffery Finley of Martinsburg pleaded guilty this month to a federal charge of entering a restricted building because he was among the crowd surging into the U.S. Capitol.
His plea could result in a maximum of one year in prison, a fine of $100,000 and supervised release of no more than a year. He’ll also have to pay a fine of $500, determined to be his share of about $1,495 million in damage to the Capitol.
A mob storming the U.S. Capitol that day disrupted the constitutional duty of counting Electoral College votes and prompted the evacuations of representatives, senators and Vice President Mike Pence. One woman was fatally shot while trying to climb into the chambers, three others died from “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 specify “each chapter is anonymous, and as president of his chapter Finley was the highest ranking of his men.”
Four higher-profile members of the Proud Boys have been charged with conspiracy. They are alleged to have worked together to obstruct the congressional certification of Joe Biden’s Electoral College victory, including through encrypted messaging.
One of the encrypted message threads was called “Boots on the Ground.” About 60 people were in the message thread, including the four Proud Boys charged with conspiracy. Another was the West Virginia resident, Finley, according to his charging documents.
Finley joined the “Boots on the Ground” message thread about 1:30 p.m. Jan. 5, 2021, according to the statement of offense in his case.
On the morning of Jan. 6, he met up at the Washington Monument with members of the Proud Boys from his chapter and other chapters across the country.
As the day went on, Finley encountered some of the Proud Boys now at the center of federal conspiracy charges.
Among them were Ethan Nordean, Joseph Biggs and Zachary Rehl.
A fourth, Charles Donohoe, was seen from a distance. Donahoe pleaded guilty this month in federal court: “Donohoe believed that storming the Capitol would achieve the group’s goal of stopping the government from carrying out the transfer of presidential power. Donohoe understood from discussions that the Proud Boys would pursue their objective through the use of force and violence.”
Finley followed Proud Boys leaders as they left the Washington Monument and marched on the National Mall toward the U.S. Capitol, according to the federal court documents. Among the group, Finley recognized a Proud Boy named Ethan Nordean, known as “Rufio,” leading the march.
Nordean, a resident of the State of Washington, is one of the Proud Boys now charged with conspiracy.
After the 2021 presidential election, that Nov. 27, Nordean posted on social media a call to action.
“We tried playing nice and by the rules, now you will deal with the monster you created. The spirit of 1776 has resurfaced nd has created groups like the Proudboys and we will not be extinguished. We will grow like the flame that fuels us and spread like love that guides us. We are unstoppable, unrelenting and now unforgiving. Good luck to all you traitors of this country we so deeply love… you’re going to need it.
Over more than two hours on Jan. 6, Finley marched with the group to the east side of the Capitol and then back to the west side. During that time, his statement of offense indicates, Finley saw Nordean break off from the group to talk to a small group of other Proud Boys leaders, including Joe Biggs, Zachary Rehl, and Charles Donohoe.
Nordean and Biggs directed the group to the Peace Circle near the Capitol grounds.
In late-January, 2021, after Nordean had been charged in the Capitol riot, he posted a bitter message about President Donald Trump. The message was entered into evidence by federal prosecutors.
“I’ve followed this guy for 4 years and given everything and lost it all. Yes he woke us up, but he led us to believe some great justice was upon us…and it never happened,” Nordean wrote on Jan. 20, after Proud Boys members were charged, “now I’ve got some of my good friends and myself facing jail time cuz we followed this guys lead and never questioned it.”
As members of the Proud Boys approached a barricaded area at the pedestrian entrance to the Capitol, Finley saw a leader from Florida, Joe Biggs, lead the crowd in chants: “Whose house? Our house!” and “Whose Capitol? Our Capitol!”
According to the federal documents, Finley witnessed someone in the crowd start to tear down the barricades.
The man, Ryan Samsel, has alleged that Biggs pressured him to start pushing down the barricades.
Biggs is among the Proud Boys charged with conspiracy. Leading up to Jan. 6, Biggs had advised Proud Boys to abandon their usual black-and-yellow clothing to blend in. “Jan 6th is gonna be epic,” he wrote on a social media site.
The crowd, including members of the Proud Boys, began rushing forward. “To Finley, there appeared to be a coordinated effort to pull the barricades apart,” according to the statement of offense.
Members of the Proud Boys, still led by Nordean, began moving more barricades, overran law enforcement and went up the stairs to the upper west terrace.
On the terrace, Finley heard Rehl and others from his chapter discussing what was going on inside the Capitol. Rehl then asked the group, including Finley, whether they wanted to go inside, according to Finley’s statement of offense.
Finley entered through the Senate wing door about 2:55 p.m., following Rehl and some of his group into the building. “While doing so,” according to the statement of offense, “Finley understood that law enforcement did not want people to go inside the Capitol.”
Inside, Finley lost sight of Rehl and the others. Finley took a selfie at the door to an office, left the building and then left the Capitol grounds.
About 5 p.m., Finley posted a video message to the encrypted “Boots on the Ground” app and, in part, addressed Rehl as “Captain Trump.”
“I just got out myself, dude, I was in there, you know, [expletive] taking pictures with the boys. Yo, Captain “Trump. proud of your [expletive] boy.”
Finley continued by describing security outside the Capitol: “We literally can’t get back in. [Expletive} crazy, crazy, crazy lockdown. If you guys come out, you’re not getting back in. That’s 100%”