Joe Biggs, a leader of the Proud Boys, was sentenced to 17 years in federal prison for his role in the January 6, 2021, Capitol riot after a judge determined Biggs qualified for a “terrorism” enhancement.
Biggs, 39, was convicted in May on several charges, including seditious conspiracy; conspiracy to obstruct an official proceeding; obstruction of an official proceeding; conspiracy to use force, intimidation or threats to prevent officers of the U.S. from discharging their duties; interference with law enforcement during civil disorder; and destruction of government property.
Biggs went to trial alongside other Proud Boys members Enrique Tarrio, Ethan Nordean, Zachary Rehl, and Dominic Pezzola, who, except for Pezzola, were all convicted of seditious conspiracy, as NBC News reported.
Biggs’s 17-year sentence is among the longest of the January 6 cases, second to the 18-year sentence Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes received. Biggs will also be placed on supervised release for 36 months after he completes his sentence. Biggs faced a maximum of 33 years in prison, according to the sentencing guidelines.
U.S. District Judge Timothy Kelly determined Biggs qualified for a terrorism sentencing enhancement because he tore down a fence at the Capitol that stood between police and rioters. Kelly called the fence’s destruction a “deliberate, meaningful step” that contributed to the disruption of the electoral vote count, according to reports.
“I’ve reviewed the evidence of Mr. Biggs’ calculation and deliberation in taking down that fence,” Kelly said at Thursday’s sentencing hearing. “When that fence came down it facilitated the mob in overwhelming law enforcement, entering the Capitol and eventually halting the proceedings.”
Biggs, a U.S. Army veteran, previously worked for InfoWars as a correspondent. At trial, Biggs was represented by Norm Pattis, who also represents InfoWars founder Alex Jones.
Pattis argued against the terrorism enhancement, calling the fence’s destruction a “means to an end.”
“What happened here? A $32,000 fence was an obstacle to the Capitol,” Pattis said. “No serious person here will argue destroying the fence was meant to influence government. It was a means to an end.”
Biggs apologized for his actions and acknowledged he “messed up” before he was sentenced.
As NBC News detailed:
“I apologize for my rhetoric,” Biggs said, adding he used it as a way to deal with what was going on with his family after his daughter was molested by a member of their family. “I’m so sorry. … I’m not a terrorist, I don’t have hate in my heart.”
Biggs grew emotional as he talked about his daughter, swearing on her life that he intended Jan. 6 to be his last event with the Proud Boys.
“I’m done with it. I’m sick and tired of left versus right,” Biggs said. The only group he wants to be affiliated with, he said, is his daughter’s PTA.
Although Kelly applied the terrorism enhancement, he agreed the enhancement “overstates” Biggs’s conduct. “It’s not my job to label you a terrorist and my sentence today won’t do that, no matter what it is,” Kelly told Biggs at the sentencing hearing.
“What happened on Jan. 6 harmed an important American custom that helps support the rule of law and the Constitution,” Kelly added. “That day broke our tradition of peacefully transferring power which is among the most precious things that we had as Americans. Notice I said had. We don’t have it anymore.”
Kelly is the second judge to apply a terrorism enhancement in the January 6 cases. U.S. District Judge Amit P. Mehta applied the terrorism enhancement when handing down Rhodes’s 18-year sentence.
Kelly also sentenced Rehl, who served as the president of the Proud Boys Philadelphia chapter, to 15 years in prison on Thursday.