A former organizer of the far-right extremist group Proud Boys was sentenced to 17 years in prison on Thursday for spearheading an attack on the US Capitol aimed at preventing the peaceful transfer of power from Donald Trump to Joe Biden after the 2020 presidential election.
Federal prosecutors had recommended a 33-year prison sentence for Joseph Biggs, who helped dozens of Proud Boys members and associates march to the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021. Biggs and other Proud Boys joined the crowd that broke through police lines and forced lawmakers to flee, disrupting the joint session of Congress meant to certify Biden’s election victory.
“I know I made a mistake that day,” Biggs told the judge just before being sentenced, “but I’m not a terrorist.”
The judge who sentenced Biggs will also separately sentence four other Proud Boys who were found guilty by a jury in May after a four-month trial in Washington that laid bare far-right extremists’ embrace of Trump’s lies. that the 2020 election was stolen. him.
Enrique Tarrio, a Miami resident who was national president and top executive of the Proud Boys, is expected to be sentenced on Tuesday. His sentencing was postponed from Wednesday to next week because the judge, Timothy Kelly, was ill.
Biggs, of Ormond Beach, Florida, was a self-proclaimed Proud Boys organizer. He served in the US military for eight years before being medically discharged in 2013. Biggs then worked as a correspondent for Infowars, the website run by conspiracy theorist Alex Jones.
Biggs, Tarrio, Nordean and Proud Boys chapter leader Zachary Rehl were convicted on counts including seditious conspiracy, an offense rarely carried in the Civil War era. A fifth Proud Boys member, Dominic Pezzola, was acquitted of seditious conspiracy but convicted of other serious charges.
Prosecutors also recommended prison sentences of 33 years for Tarrio, 30 years for Rehl, 27 years for Nordean and 20 years for Pezzola. The judge is expected to sentence Rehl later Thursday. Pezzola and Nordean are expected to be sentenced on Friday.
Defense attorneys argued that the Justice Department unfairly held their clients responsible for the violent actions of others among the crowd of Trump supporters on Capitol Hill.
More than 1,100 people have been charged with federal crimes related to the Capitol riots. More than 600 of them have been found guilty and sentenced.