Joseph Biggs, a former military service member who helped lead efforts by the Proud Boys to take over the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, was sentenced to 17 years in prison for seditious conspiracy and other crimes committed during the riot more than two years ago.
Judge Timothy J. Kelly also sentenced Biggs to three years of supervised release and a ban on any interactions with organizations that advocate violence against the government.
The sentence is far below the 33 year sentence sought by prosecutors.
Back in May, he was convicted alongside former Proud Boys national chairman Enrique Tarrio and other fellow Proud Boys Ethan Nordean and Zachary Rehl. A fourth defendant, Dominic Pezzola, was acquitted of seditious conspiracy but found guilty of assaulting, resisting or impeding certain officers and robbery involving government property.
Prosecutors also wanted to apply a “terrorism enhancement,” which leads to longer prison terms, given his crimes.
Judge Kelly chose to apply that enhancement to one of Biggs’ charges regarding his role in the destruction of a fence surrounding the U.S. Capitol building which, once gone, no longer kept the mob back from law enforcement protecting the building.
The most severe sentence doled out to Jan. 6 rioters so far is 18 years given to Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes. He was similarly convicted of seditious conspiracy in a separate case in May.
Before being sentenced, Biggs begged for forgiveness and leniency. He downplayed his role in the Jan. 6 riots and said that day was set to be the last event he planned to do with the Proud Boys as he had plans to step back from the organization.
“I was seduced by the crowd,” Biggs said of the mob in front of the U.S. Capitol. “Curiosity got the better of me and I will regret that for the rest of my life.”
Biggs cried as he begged Kelly to allow him an opportunity to be present for his young daughter who he said was molested by a family member and is now in the care of his mother.
“I am not a terrorist,” he said. “I know I have to be punished, but at least give me the opportunity to take my daughter to school one day.”
As the first of the five co-defendants in the Proud Boys’ Jan. 6 case to be sentenced, Biggs’ punishment indicates a likelihood of similarly aggressive penalties for the other members he was convicted with.
The sentencing hearings for Tarrio and Nordean, originally scheduled for Wednesday, were delayed after Kelly fell ill.
Nordean’s hearing is rescheduled for Friday and Tarrio’s for Tuesday, Sept. 5.