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Ex-Proud Boys leaders Joseph Biggs, Zachary Rehl sentenced for Jan. 6 attack

Members of the Proud Boys were among those involved in the attack on the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021. File Photo by Leigh Vogel/UPI
Members of the Proud Boys were among those involved in the attack on the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021. File Photo by Leigh Vogel/UPI

Aug. 31 (UPI) -- Joseph Biggs and Zachary Rehl, two leaders of the infamous Proud Boys hate group, were sentenced Thursday for their roles in the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol.

Biggs, the 39-year-old head of the Proud Boys chapter in Florida, was sentenced Thursday to 17 years in prison for seditious conspiracy, the Justice Department announced.

The court also hit Biggs, a close ally of former Proud Boys chairman Enrique Tarrio, with 36 months of supervised release after his prison sentence.

U.S. District Judge Timothy J. Kelly applied the enhancement for a federal crime of terrorism to his final sentence, prosecutors said.

Rehl, who led the Proud Boys in Philadelphia, was sentenced to 15 years in prison with 36 months of supervised release, prosecutors said.

Former Proud Boys leader Enrique Tarrio (C) is scheduled to be sentenced on seditious conspiracy charges next week after his hearing on Wednesday was delayed when the judge fell ill. File Photo by Gamal Diab/EPA-EFE
Former Proud Boys leader Enrique Tarrio (C) is scheduled to be sentenced on seditious conspiracy charges next week after his hearing on Wednesday was delayed when the judge fell ill. File Photo by Gamal Diab/EPA-EFE

Biggs and Rehl both were members of a special chapter of the Proud Boys known as the "Ministry of Self Defense," prosecutors said.

They each had made statements celebrating what Biggs had called a "warning shot to the government."

Prosecutors had recommended 33 years for Biggs because they said he was the "tip of the spear" for the mob's violent effort to stop the lawful certification of the 2020 presidential election results, aiming to keep Donald Trump in power.

Tarrio is the only other defendant of the more than 1,106 people charged for participating in the attempt to overthrow the government who received as lengthy of a recommendation.

Stewart Rhodes, the leader of the violent Oath Keepers militia, was sentenced to 18 years in prison earlier this year after prosecutors had recommended a sentence of 25 years.

"The evidence at trial demonstrated that Biggs was a vocal leader and influential proponent of the group's shift toward political violence," prosecutors said in their sentencing memo for Biggs.

"More than perhaps any other, Biggs appreciated the tactical advantage that his force had that day, and he understood the significance of his actions against his own government."

Biggs celebrated the attack when he said during a recorded interview afterward that it was a "warning shot to the government" that showed them "how weak they truly are."

Tarrio and his associate Ethan Nordean had their sentencing hearings delayed this week after the judge presiding over the case fell ill on Wednesday.

U.S. District Judge Timothy Kelly was unable to attend court because of an unexpected illness.

Nordean's hearing was rescheduled to 2 p.m. Friday, while Tarrio is set to be sentenced at 2 p.m. Tuesday. Proud Boy Dominic Pezzola is set to be sentenced Friday, as well.

Prosecutors are demanding 27 years in prison for Nordean.

The men were convicted in May on the rare charge of seditious conspiracy and several other felonies.

"The defendants understood the stakes, and they embraced their role in bringing about a 'revolution,'" prosecutors wrote in their sentencing memorandum to Kelly.

"They unleashed a force on the Capitol that was calculated to exert their political will on elected officials by force and to undo the results of a democratic election. The foot soldiers of the right aimed to keep their leader in power. They failed. They are not heroes; they are criminals."

Pezzola was acquitted of seditious conspiracy but was found guilty of other felonies, including assaulting and resisting police as he smashed a window to enter the Capitol.

Prosecutors want 30 years for Pezzola.

More than 20 other Proud Boys members from chapters ranging from Hawaii to New York were charged in separate Jan. 6-related indictments.

Other members of the Oath Keepers also have been found guilty of seditious conspiracy, with founder Stewart Rhodes sentenced in May to 18 years in federal prison.