Proud Boys Leader Receives 17-Year Sentence for Role in Capitol Violence

By Lily Hackett August 31, 2023

Far-right organization's leader, Joe Biggs, handed one of the longest sentences for his involvement in the Capitol rioting that disrupted the peaceful transition of power.

The far-right leader of the Proud Boys, identified as Joe Biggs, known for his role in the violent overturn of the US Capitol on January 6, 2021, has seen justice as he is sentenced to 17 years in jail. This sentencing stands among the lengthiest given to a convicted rioter for that event.

Charges leveled against Biggs included seditious conspiracy, due to his active attempts to prevent the peaceful handover of power from Donald Trump to Joe Biden, following the 2020 election results. The verdict was delivered by a jury in Washington, D.C.

"Our Constitution and laws offer you crucial rights that Americans have honorably defended, some even losing their lives for them," commented District Judge Timothy Kelly while announcing the sentence. He highlighted how January 6, 2021, disrupted the US tradition of peacefully relinquishing power, meriting a significant punishment.

Prosecutors originally recommended a 33-year sentence for Biggs, suggesting his role along with those of his co-conspirators was at the forefront of the political violence evolving in the US. Their actions on January 6, 2021, were part of an attempted shift in American history's course. Judge Kelly, however, issued a sentence significantly lighter, considering the existing harsh sentences for related conduct while also acknowledging the violent reality of the Capitol attack.

Behind the 18 year prison term given to Oath Keeper founder Stewart Rhodes, Biggs' sentence is the second longest delivered in relation to the Capitol riot.

In an emotional plea, Biggs implored the court for leniency, expressing remorse for his deeds while maintaining he was not a terrorist. He lamented the loss of precious moments with his daughter and his expected regrets as he lives with the consequences of his actions.

During the trial, evidence was presented showing that Biggs, along with Ethan Nordean, Zachary Rehl, and Enrique Tarrio, had planned and incited violence leading up to the Capitol invasion. Furthermore, during the riot, they remained removed from the front lines while others attacked police officers and forcefully entered the Capitol.

Apart from Tarrio, the rest of these individuals faced successful convictions over charges of seditious conspiracy. Proud Boy Dominic Pezzola was acquitted of that charge, though all five were found guilty of charges related to the event, including obstruction of law enforcement during civil disorder and destruction of government property.

Prosecutor Jason McCullough asserted that the mob's breach of the Capitol pushed the nation toward a constitutional crisis, terrorizing both officials and civilians. The fallout from these actions could continue to have an intimidating impact on everyday activities and events, he suggested.