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Proud Boys frontman Joe Biggs to be sentenced for seditious conspiracy

A former leader of the far-right group Proud Boys was sentenced on Thursday, with prosecutors seeking what would be a record punishment for a participant in the Jan. 6, 2021 riot at the U.S. Capitol.

Joseph Biggs, 39, of Florida, was one of four Proud Boys convicted at a trial earlier this year of engaging in a seditious plot to keep Donald Trump in power by force, as well as obstruction of Congress and other crimes. The Department of Justice says Biggs is as responsible as former Proud Boys president Henry “Enrique” Tarrio for the group’s involvement in the Capitol attack and that both men deserve to spend 33 years in prison .

Biggs was “a vocal leader and influential supporter of the group’s turn toward political violence,” prosecutors say, with particular “talents” that gave him more influence. As a former employee of Infowars host Alex Jones, who helped organize the rally that preceded the riot, Biggs had a national platform. As a veteran, he had military experience. And he was close to Tarrio, who was kicked out of Washington before Jan. 6 for stealing and destroying a Black Lives Matter flag at an earlier protest.

Proud Boys Revealed: Videos and Secret Chats Show How the January 6 Plot Unfolded

With Tarrio unavailable, Biggs has been put in charge of the Proud Boys’ on-court efforts alongside Seattle’s Ethan Nordean, who is expected to be sentenced on Friday.

“Biggs maintained his leadership position throughout the day on Jan. 6,” prosecutors said, leading a “relentless effort” to intimidate lawmakers confirming the election count.

A large contingent of Proud Boys marched to the Capitol before Trump directed his supporters there. Then, according to prosecutors, Biggs led the growing crowd through the barricades and into the building. Capitol Police Officer Shae Cooney testified earlier in the week that he stood on the other side of that crowd, trying to keep them out. She couldn’t stop to communicate with her family, she said, or to check on Officer Brian D. Sicknick, who collapsed hours after the riot and died the next day.

“They decided to break the law, to assault police officers and to have one police officer take his life and other police officers to commit suicide because of the things they saw,” Cooney said. “Because the people in that courtroom decided they weren’t happy with the way an election went.”

After the riot, Biggs lied to the FBI, first saying he was not at the Capitol, then that he was but never entered. He also encouraged the other Proud Boys to delete any potentially incriminating posts following Tarrio’s arrest. Like several other Proud Boys, Biggs was in contact with federal agents before Jan. 6 but only provided information about the group’s enemies on the left, according to court records.

Later Thursday, U.S. District Judge Timothy J. Kelly is also expected to sentence Zachary Rehl of Philadelphia, another member of the January 6 ruling group. Tarrio was due to be sentenced on Wednesday, but that hearing has been postponed until next week. Prosecutors are asking for a 30-year prison sentence against Rehl.

The two sentences would far exceed the longest ever handed to hundreds of people convicted of committing crimes around January 6, 2021 – the 18 years handed to Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes after he was was found guilty of a separate seditious plot involving his extremist group.

Representing Biggs and Rehl, defense attorney Norm Pattis argued that they were not responsible for the violence of others. Of the five Proud Boys on trial together, only one was found guilty of assaulting an officer – Dominic Pezzola, for stealing a police riot shield which he then used to smash a window and create the first point entry of rioters into the Capitol building. . Pezzola was also the only defendant acquitted of the seditious conspiracy charge.

Pattis said Nordean and Rehl “heed the call” from Trump, who now faces his own criminal charges for the Jan. 6, 2021 attack. “Another jury, another day, will decide whether the president…took the American public and its supporters for fools,” he wrote.

With judges handing down criminal sentences on Jan. 6, 2021, the cases fall far short of federal sentencing guidelines and prosecutors’ recommendations. Sentencing guidelines on Wednesday suggested a prison term of 97 to 121 months for Connie Meggs, 62, convicted with her husband as part of the Oath Keepers group that invaded the Capitol. But U.S. District Judge Amit P. Mehta imposed a 15-month sentence on Meggs, who said she was simply following her husband, Kelly Meggs, down the steps of the Capitol.

Mehta had previously sentenced Kelly Meggs to 12 years in prison.

“You weren’t convicted because you were just following your husband,” Mehta said, referring to the jury verdict that found her guilty of conspiracy to obstruct official process and four other crimes. “The decisions that were made that day were also yours. But he said the sentencing guidelines were “too harsh for Ms Meggs’ conduct”.


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