Two leadersof the Proud Boys street gang were each sentenced Thursday to more than a decade in prison for their role in the planning and execution of the violent plot to overturn the 2020 election in favor of Donald Trump on Jan. 6, 2021.
JosephBiggs, an Army veteran and former correspondent for Alex Jones’ Infowars, was sentenced to 17 years in prison by U.S. District Judge Timothy J. Kelly in Washington on Thursday. In a separate hearing later that day, Zachary Rehl, former head of the Philadelphia chapter of the Proud Boys, was sentenced to 15 years by Kelly.
Biggs and Rehl are twoof five Proud Boys leaders convicted in May in the seditious conspiracy case, which served as one of the Justice Department’s highest-profile indictments against any Capitol rioter.
Biggs wore an orange prison jumpsuit and black, thick-rimmed glasses as he spoke before Judge Kelly early Thursday afternoon, taking breaks to sob during a brief statement.
“My curiosity got the better of me and I will have to live with that for the rest of my life,” he said. “I’m so sorry.”
Judge Kelly responded with a note that the actions taken by Biggs and the Proud Boys upended not just the election process on Jan. 6, but the election process going forward.
“What happened that day ... it broke our tradition of the peaceful transfer of power, which is the most precious thing we had as Americans,” Kelly said. “Notice I say had — we don’t have it anymore.”
Rehl, who bragged in communications with Proud Boys about being “proud of what we accomplished” following the Capitol attack, sobbed during his sentencing hearing.
Wearing an orange jumpsuit with shackles around his feet, Rehl stood to address Judge Kelly and expressed remorse for his actions.
“A complete lapse in judgment cost me everything,” Rehl said, according to reporters in the courtroom.
“I am done peddling lies for people who do not care about me,” he added.
Their Proud Boy co-defendants — Enrique Tarrio, Ethan Nordean and Dominic Pezzola — are all set to be sentenced over the next week in Washington.
All of them except Pezzola were found guilty in May of seditious conspiracy, a rare and serious charge historically brought against terrorists acting on American soil. Each was found guilty on a range of other federal charges, including obstructing Congress, destruction of government property and assaulting law enforcement.
Prosecutors sought 33 years in prison for Biggs, recommending 15 years more than the longest sentence handed down in any Jan. 6 case thus far. Oath Keepers leader (and Proud Boys ally) Stewart Rhodes was sentenced to 18 years in May.
The Justice Department painted Biggs as a tactical planner of the Proud Boys’ movements in the months leading up to Jan. 6 as well as on the day.
On Nov. 10, 2020, shortly after news networks called the election for Joe Biden, Biggs posted a blog post on his website, The Biggs Report, in which he called directly for civil war.
“Buy ammo, clean your guns, get storable food and water,” he wrote in the now-deleted post. “Be prepared! Things are about to get bad before they get better.”
On Jan. 6, Biggs and Rehl carried walkie-talkies as they moved with a group of hundreds of rioters — many of them Proud Boys — toward the Capitol, barking orders to other members as they worked to breach the building.
“January 6 will be a day in infamy,” Biggs said in a video of himself he recorded outside the Capitol. Later, he took a selfie inside the Senate gallery, which he breached alongside other rioters, case exhibits show.
Joe Biggs inside the Senate gallery on Jan. 6, 2021.
The sentences handed down to Biggs and Rehl set Judge Kelly’s tone for the rest of the Proud Boys’ sentences — especially for Tarrio, the gang’s chairman, who wasn’t present at the Capitol but who played an outsize role in the seditious plot to overturn the election. Tarrio was initially set to be sentenced on Wednesday, but his hearing was delayed to Sept. 5 after Kelly came down with an unrelated illness.