A former top organizer for the Proud Boys who was convicted of seditious conspiracy and other felonies stemming from his leadership role in the Jan. 6 assault on the Capitol was sentenced on Thursday to 17 years in prison.
Joseph Biggs, a U.S. army veteran, was a leader of the group’s Florida chapter and a close ally of the former Proud Boys chairman Enrique Tarrio. Biggs was convicted of seditious conspiracy in May alongside two other Proud Boys leaders following a more than four-month-long trial.
In handing down his sentence, D.C. District Judge Timothy Kelly accepted the government’s recommendation to apply an enhancement that effectively labeled Biggs’ crimes as acts of terrorism in seeking to influence the actions of government through threats and use of force.
Prosecutors had sought 33 years in prison for Biggs, their longest recommended prison sentence yet for any participant convicted of joining the Jan. 6 assault — their same recommendation for Tarrio. They had previously sought 25 years in prison for Oath Keepers leader Stewart Rhodes, who was convicted for leading his far-right militia members in a separate seditious conspiracy and sentenced earlier this year to 18 years in prison.
Biggs’ sentence is the second longest for any defendant charged in connection with the Capitol attack. Tarrio is set to be sentenced next Tuesday.
Prosecutors characterized Biggs as the “tip of the spear” for the mob throughout the Capitol attack in his role as co-leader of the so-called “Ministry of Self Defense,” a planning team that later evolved into the Proud Boys’ ground operation on Jan. 6.
“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.”
They pointed to increasingly threatening and violent rhetoric espoused by Biggs in the days after the November 2020 election leading up to the Jan. 6 attack — and noted that he had encouraged Tarrio to “get radical and get real men” only hours after former President Donald Trump first announced plans for his supporters to rally in Washington on the day of the certification.
During the assault on the Capitol, prosecutors argued Biggs played a major role in four separate breaches of law enforcement lines and after entering the building made his way to the Senate chamber.
After Jan. 6, Biggs recorded a podcast-style interview where he celebrated the attack as a “warning shot to the government” that showed them “how weak they truly are.”
Rehl helped lead the charge on Jan. 6 and was among the first wave of rioters to breach the Capitol. Rehl helped overwhelm officers, spraying one in the face with an irritant spray, according to the sentencing memo.
Rehl later made posts on social media calling Jan. 6 a “historical day,” and told his mother how proud he was of the Proud Boys’ Capitol attack, according to the sentencing memo.
The sentences are set to be handed down by U.S. District Judge Tim Kelly, and could be an indicator of what Tarrio could face when he is sentenced next Tuesday. Prosecutors are also recommending Tarrio serve 33 years behind bars for his leadership role in the seditious conspiracy.
Any sentence above 18 years would be the longest for any individual convicted in connection with the Jan. 6 riot, a term that was handed down back in May to Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes. Prosecutors sought 25 years for him and are currently appealing his sentence from U.S. District Judge Amit Mehta, arguing it’s too lenient for the crimes he was convicted of.