'Former Proud Boys leaders Biggs and Rehl sentenced for January 6th sedition'
Two former Proud Boys leaders were sentenced to prison for their roles in the Jan. 6 Capitol attack. Joseph Biggs received 17 years, and Zachary Rehl received 15 years.
Two former leaders of the Proud Boys, Joseph Biggs and Zachary Rehl, have been sentenced for their involvement in the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol. U.S. District Judge Timothy Kelly handed down one of the longest sentences yet for individuals charged in connection with the assault.
Joseph Biggs, the former leader of the Proud Boys' Florida chapter, was sentenced to 17 years in prison. Zachary Rehl, the former leader of the Proud Boys' Philadelphia chapter, received a 15-year prison sentence.
Biggs, an army veteran and close ally of former Proud Boys chairman Enrique Tarrio, was convicted of seditious conspiracy in May after a lengthy trial. Judge Kelly accepted the government's recommendation to apply an enhancement that classified Biggs' crimes as acts of terrorism, as they sought to influence the government through threats and the use of force.
Prosecutors had initially sought a 33-year prison sentence for Biggs, the longest recommendation for any participant in the January 6 attack. They had also sought a 25-year sentence for Oath Keepers leader Stewart Rhodes, who was convicted separately for leading his far-right militia members in a seditious conspiracy.
Biggs' sentence is the second longest for any defendant charged in connection with the Capitol attack, while Rehl's sentence is the third longest. Tarrio is scheduled to be sentenced next week.
Prosecutors described Biggs as a key figure in the mob that stormed the Capitol, highlighting his role as co-leader of the "Ministry of Self Defense," a planning team that later became the Proud Boys' ground operation on January 6. They emphasized Biggs' promotion of political violence and his understanding of the impact his actions would have on the government.
During the assault, Biggs was involved in four separate breaches of law enforcement lines and made his way to the Senate chamber. After the attack, he recorded an interview where he celebrated it as a warning to the government.
In court, Assistant U.S. Attorney Jason McCullough argued for a significant sentence to serve as a deterrent to other extremists. He emphasized the goal of intimidating and terrifying elected officials, law enforcement, and the country at large.
Biggs' attorney, Norm Pattis, argued for leniency, claiming that many of the statements made by Biggs should be protected under his right to free speech. He compared treating the defendants as terrorists to the destructive outcome of the Waco siege in 1993.
During his own statement to the court, Biggs became emotional and disputed being labeled a "terrorist." He expressed remorse for his actions and pleaded for leniency so he could care for his daughter in the future.
Zachary Rehl played a leading role in the January 6 attack, being among the first wave of rioters to breach the Capitol. He also sprayed a police officer with an irritant spray and later made posts on social media praising the attack. Prosecutors requested a 30-year prison sentence for Rehl, highlighting his logistical role within the Proud Boys and his perjury during trial.
Judge Kelly found Rehl's conduct particularly concerning, especially his actions of spraying police officers and lying about it. He described Rehl's statements after the riot as "chilling." Before his sentencing, Rehl expressed remorse and vowed to distance himself from politics.
In both cases, Judge Kelly delivered sentences significantly below the recommended guidelines, citing concerns that the terrorism enhancement overstated the seriousness of their conduct.
The sentencing of Biggs and Rehl marks another step in holding individuals accountable for their roles in the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol. The sentences serve as a warning to other extremists and aim to deter similar attacks on the government in the future.