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Two ex-Proud Boys leaders get longest prison terms yet for seditious conspiracy

© iStock - Luka Banda
Shirleen Guerra

(The Center Square) - Former leaders of the Proud Boys organization, Joseph R. Biggs and Zachary Rhel, were sentenced for seditious conspiracy and other charges concerning the U.S. Capital January 6, 2021.

Biggs and Rhel disrupted a joint session of the U.S. Congress that was actively counting electoral votes for the 2020 election.

Joseph R. Biggs, 39, of Ormond Beach, Florida, was sentenced to 17 years in prison and 36 months of supervised release.

Zachary Rehl, 38, of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, was sentenced to 15 years in prison and 36 months of supervised release.

According to court documents, a jury convicted Biggs and Rehl as well as three other co-defendants on multiple felonies, including seditious conspiracy and conspiracy to obstruct an official proceeding May 4, 2023, for actions regarding the breach of the U.S. Capitol January 6, 2021.

Evidence presented during the trial shows that the Proud Boys organization played a prominent, often violent role in Washington, D.C., rallies in November and December of 2020.

Biggs and Rehl served in the chapter "Ministry of Self-Defense" of the Proud Boys.

After December 19, 2020, Biggs and Rehl both conspired to prevent, hinder, and delay the Electoral College vote and to oppose the authority of the government of the United States.

Days before January 6, Biggs, Rehl, and other co-defendants Henry "Enrique" Tarrio and Ethan Nordean hand-selected co-defendant Dominic Pezzola and others known as "rally boys."

The "rally boys" decided on a chain of command and chose the time and place to gather while recruiting others who would also engage in physical violence.

At 10:00 a.m. January 6, the Proud Boys and their recruits of nearly 200 began their walk to the U.S. Capitol. At 12:50 p.m., the group started the chant a short time later, led by Biggs, "Whose Capitol? Our Capitol!" and "Whose house? Our house?"

After breaching several barricades and fences, Biggs stated, "We've gone through every barricade thus far."

The group, still led by Biggs, would push forward when law enforcement attempted to control the crowd.

While at the steps of the Capitol, Rhel sprayed an officer in the face while Pezzola smashed a window, allowing others to enter the Capitol, followed by Biggs at 2:11 p.m.

Many group members recorded and took photos on the west lawn of the Capitol, stating, "January 6 will be a day in infamy."

Rhel also made social media posts naming January 6 a "historical day" while telling his mother that he was "so [expletive removed] proud" of the Proud Boys' "raid of the capitol."

Biggs also recorded an interview, calling the January 6 breach a "warning shot" that showed the government "how weak they truly are" from being "bitch-slapped... on their own home turf." he went on to say that "January 7 was warning shot to the government -look, we started this country this way, and we'll [expletive removed]save it this way."

U.S. District Judge Timothy J. Kelly added the federal crime of terrorism to the defendant's sentence.

The U.S. Attorney's Office prosecuted the crimes alongside the District of Columbia, the National Security Division's Counterterrorism Section, and the Criminal Division's Organized Crime and Gang Section.

The FBI Washington Field Office investigated the case, and the charges are a direct result of the cooperation across several FBI Field offices and law enforcement agencies.

As of today, more than 1,106 individuals have been arrested across the U.S. related to the breach January 6 Capitol breach, resulting in more than 350 of those charges for assaulting or impending law enforcement.