Washington — A top lieutenant of former Proud Boys leader Enrique Tarrio was sentenced to 17 years in prison on Thursday after a jury convicted him, Tarrio, and two others of seditious conspiracy, the most severe crime charged in the Justice Department’s investigation into the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol attack.
Joseph Biggs of Florida was the first of the Proud Boys co-defendants — including Tarrio — to be sentenced after a jury found them guilty of numerous felony counts tied to the riot. Biggs was also convicted of additional charges, including conspiring to obstruct Congress and civil disorder was acquitted on other accusations including assaulting officers and destruction of government property.
Prosecutors had asked U.S. District Court Judge Timothy Kelly to sentence Biggs — an Iraq war veteran who suffered from PTSD and later worked for InfoWars — to 33 years in prison. Tarrio’s sentencing was previously set for Wednesday but postponed until Sept. 5 because the judge was sick. He, too, faces a government sentencing request of 33 years behind bars.
“Biggs appreciated the tactical advantage that his force had that day, and he understood the significance of his actions against his own government,” The Justice Department wrote in a sentencing memorandum earlier this month, “Biggs understood that the outnumbered forces attempting to hold the Capitol would be powerless due to his side’s overwhelming numbers.”
“There is a reason why we will hold our collective breaths when we approach future elections,” prosecutor Jason McCullough said during Thursday’s sentencing hearing, “They pushed this to the edge of a constitutional crisis.”
Speaking to the court himself on Thursday, Biggs told the judge he was not a violent person and apologized for his violent rhetoric.
I’m not a terrorist,” Biggs said, adding, “I’m so sorry,” as he spoke through tears, explaining he wanted to be home to care for his daughter.
“When Jan. 6 came up, that was my last time ever going out with the Proud Boys…I was going to announce to the group that I’m done,” he added.
“I know that I have to be punished, and I understand,” Biggs conceded.
During the months-long trial, prosecutors presented evidence that Biggs was part of Tarrio’s close leadership team and tied him to the alleged coordination of the mob.
The group was accused of forming a Ministry of Self-Defense (MOSD) structure with Tarrio at the top, commanding a group of leaders who would strategize their presence at Trump’s Jan. 6 rally. Biggs was a part of that group, along with co-defendants Zachary Rehl and Ethan Nordean. Dominic Pezzola, the only defendant to be acquitted of seditious conspiracy, was not an MOSD member.
Tarrio was not present in Washington, D.C. on Jan. 6, but Biggs, Rehl, Nordean, and Pezzola gathered with over 100 Proud Boys at the Washington Monument and, according to prosecutors, marched toward the Capitol.
We’ve taken the Capitol,” Biggs said on the Capitol’s west front, according to trial evidence, as Pezzola grabbed a law enforcement riot shield and used it to break a window on the Senate side of the building.
“Biggs acted as the tip of the spear throughout the attack on January 6,” the government wrote, “He was among the first wave across the First Street barrier, he tore down the fence at Breach 2, he repositioned himself and charged up the scaffolding at Breach 3, and he was among the first rioters into the Capitol at Breach 4.”
Prosecutors had asked the judge to apply a terrorism-related sentencing enhancement when he calculated the defendants’ punishment because — they argued — the group tried to influence the government through intimidation or coercion.
“The defendants are not terrorists,” Biggs’ defense team shot back in court filings, “Whatever excesses of zeal they demonstrated on January 6, 2021, and no matter how grave the potential interference with the orderly transfer of power due to the events of that day, a decade or more behind bars is an excessive punishment.”
The Proud Boys defendants plan to appeal their convictions in the case.