An individual involved with the far-right organization the Proud Boys who joined the assault on the Capitol on January 6, 2021, where he helped lead some of the initial affronts targeting the building and law enforcement’s defensive efforts around it, has been sentenced to 17 years in prison. The sentence was imposed by federal Judge Timothy Kelly on Joseph Biggs, who prosecutors had asked be sentenced to 33 years.
Biggs was previously convicted at a jury trial of seditious conspiracy and other federal criminal charges. In the time after the 2020 presidential election, news reports note he advocated for violent action, and once at the Capitol, he was accused by another rioter of pushing for action against police and helped clear barricades blocking further advances, the latter of which led the judge to apply a terrorism enhancement to his sentencing, as it’s known. That inclusion means the judge formally considered that additional factor of seeming — though not charged — “terrorist” activity in deciding the defendant’s sentence.
Biggs blamed “curiosity” on his part for helping drive getting involved with what happened at the Capitol at all. He also claimed he had been intending to distance himself from the Proud Boys organization and cited family concerns, seeking the opportunity while the judge determined his sentence to be present for a daughter of his. Already in detention, he was reported to have cried before the judge in court Thursday.
The sentence imposed upon Biggs is not the longest for a rioter thus far. Stewart Rhodes, founder and national leader of the ideologically similar group the Oath Keepers, received a sentence of 18 years in prison after his own conviction on criminal charges including seditious conspiracy. Other notable sentencing news recently came in the criminal case of January 6 participant Brandon Fellows, who was hit with a five-month stint in jail for contempt after trial proceedings in which he was combative and refused to directly answer questions. Fellows was representing himself and has continued to express support for the ideologies that drove the violent events that day.