Former Proud Boys Leader Given 15-Year Prison Sentence in January 6 Capitol Attack Case

by Ethan Kim
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Proud Boys Sentencing

In a significant legal development, an ex-leader of the extremist group known as the Proud Boys has been handed a 15-year prison sentence following his involvement in orchestrating an assault on the U.S. Capitol. This event took place on January 6, 2021, with the intent of obstructing the peaceful transition of power from former President Donald Trump to President Joe Biden, subsequent to the 2020 presidential election.

Zachary Rehl, captured on video discharging a chemical irritant towards law enforcement personnel outside the Capitol on the aforementioned date, stood trial where he consistently denied his participation in the assault. The prosecution revealed that he had provided false testimonies regarding the assault during the trial.

Federal prosecutors initially advocated for a more severe 30-year imprisonment term for Rehl. It was established that he played a leadership role in guiding numerous members and affiliates of the Proud Boys as they marched towards the Capitol on that day. As part of the mob that forcibly breached police lines and disrupted the joint Congressional session for certifying President Biden’s electoral victory, Rehl’s actions contributed to the chaos.

In addition to Rehl’s sentencing, another prominent figure in the Proud Boys, Joseph Biggs, was also handed a 17-year prison sentence by U.S. District Judge Timothy Kelly. Furthermore, the judge is anticipated to pronounce sentences for three other convicted Proud Boys in the coming days. These individuals were found guilty by a jury in May, following an extensive four-month trial in Washington that laid bare the degree to which far-right extremists embraced falsehoods propagated by then-President Trump, a member of the Republican Party.

Enrique Tarrio, the national chairman and key leader of the Proud Boys residing in Miami, is scheduled to receive his sentence next week. Despite not being present in Washington on January 6, Tarrio was arrested two days before the Capitol riot on charges of defacing a Black Lives Matter banner during a prior rally in the nation’s capital. He abided by a judge’s order to leave the city following his arrest, designating Joseph Biggs and Ethan Nordean as on-ground leaders in his absence.

Convictions were secured against Rehl, Biggs, Tarrio, and Nordean on charges encompassing seditious conspiracy—an infrequently invoked offense from the Civil War era. Dominic Pezzola, a fifth member of the Proud Boys, was acquitted of seditious conspiracy but found guilty of other serious charges.

Prosecutors have advocated varying prison sentences: 33 years for Tarrio and Biggs, 27 years for Nordean, and 20 years for Pezzola. Sentencing for Nordean and Pezzola is scheduled for the upcoming days.

During his sentencing hearing, Biggs expressed acknowledgment of his wrongdoing on January 6, attributing his actions to being influenced by the crowd of Trump supporters outside the Capitol. He emphasized that he does not identify as a violent person or a “terrorist,” attributing his actions to curiosity and the crowd’s allure.

Defense attorneys contended that the U.S. Justice Department was unjustly holding their clients accountable for the violent deeds committed by others within the group of Trump supporters at the Capitol.

To date, more than 1,100 individuals have faced charges relating to federal crimes linked to the Capitol riot. Over 600 individuals among them have been both convicted and sentenced.

Rehl, leading a group of three other men, entered the Capitol and accessed a senator’s office where he proceeded to smoke and pose for photographs while displaying the Proud Boys’ hand gesture.

In a message to his mother following the events of that day, Rehl exhibited pride in his role in the attack, asserting that the actions of the Capitol raid had catalyzed a series of events across the nation.

The most severe penalty handed out for the January 6 events so far is the 18-year prison sentence for Stewart Rhodes, founder of the Oath Keepers, an anti-government group. Six other members of the Oath Keepers were also convicted of seditious conspiracy in a separate trial last year.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Capitol Attack Sentencing

What was the outcome of the trial for the former Proud Boys leader in the Capitol attack case?

The former leader of the Proud Boys, an extremist group, was sentenced to 15 years in prison for his role in the attack on the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021. He was found guilty of spearheading the assault in an attempt to disrupt the peaceful transfer of power from Donald Trump to Joe Biden after the 2020 presidential election.

What were the specific actions of Zachary Rehl during the Capitol attack?

Zachary Rehl was seen on video using a chemical irritant against law enforcement officers outside the Capitol on January 6, 2021. Despite his actions being captured on video, he repeatedly denied his involvement in the assault during his trial, according to federal prosecutors.

What charges were brought against Zachary Rehl and other Proud Boys members?

Zachary Rehl and several other members of the Proud Boys were convicted on charges of seditious conspiracy, a rarely used offense from the Civil War era. They were found guilty of leading a mob that breached police lines, disrupted the joint Congressional session, and forced lawmakers to flee as they attempted to certify Joe Biden’s electoral victory.

What were the sentences handed down by the judge?

Zachary Rehl received a 15-year prison sentence, while Joseph Biggs, another organizer of the Proud Boys, was sentenced to 17 years in prison. Other convicted Proud Boys members are awaiting their sentences, which include recommended prison terms of 33 years for Enrique Tarrio, 27 years for Ethan Nordean, and 20 years for Dominic Pezzola.

How did Joseph Biggs explain his actions during the Capitol attack?

Joseph Biggs, during his sentencing hearing, admitted to making a mistake on January 6, attributing his actions to being influenced by the crowd of Trump supporters. He claimed he was not a violent person or a “terrorist,” asserting that curiosity led him astray.

How many individuals have been charged and convicted in relation to the Capitol riot?

Over 1,100 individuals have been charged with federal crimes related to the Capitol riot. Among them, more than 600 individuals have been convicted and sentenced for their involvement in the events that transpired on January 6, 2021.

What was the significance of the sentencing of Stewart Rhodes, founder of the Oath Keepers?

Stewart Rhodes, founder of the Oath Keepers, an anti-government group, received an 18-year prison sentence—the harshest penalty yet for the events of January 6. Six other members of the Oath Keepers were also convicted of seditious conspiracy after a separate trial last year.

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