Former leaders of the far-right Proud Boys group have been given long prison sentences for their roles in spearheading the attack on the US Capitol.
The attack on January 6 2021 intended to disrupt the peaceful transfer of power from Donald Trump to Joe Biden after the 2020 presidential election.
Joseph Biggs was handed a 17-year sentence, the second longest among the numerous Capitol riot cases so far – only surpassed by the 18-year prison sentence handed to Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes.
Proud Boys chapter leader Zachary Rehl was given a 15-year sentence for seditious conspiracy.
Federal prosecutors had initially recommended a 33-year prison sentence for Biggs since he played a prominent role in leading dozens of Proud Boys members and associates in their march to the Capitol.
Alongside other Proud Boys, Biggs joined the mob that breached police lines, causing legislators to flee and interrupting Congress’ joint session to certify Mr Biden’s electoral victory.
During his sentencing, Biggs expressed remorse and acknowledged his wrongdoing.
“I know that I messed up that day,” he told the judge just before being sentenced, “but I’m not a terrorist”.
The judge who sentenced Biggs and Rehl will also be responsible for sentencing other convicted Proud Boys.
They were found guilty by a jury in May after a four-month trial that exposed the far-right extremists’ endorsement of baseless claims made by Mr Trump that the election was stolen from him.
Enrique Tarrio, the former national chairman and top leader of the Proud Boys, is set to be sentenced next week.
He was notably absent in Washington on January 6 as he had been arrested two days prior for allegedly defacing a Black Lives Matter banner during a previous rally.
Tarrio adhered to a judge’s order to leave the city following his arrest and entrusted Biggs and Proud Boys chapter president Ethan Nordean to lead the group in his absence.
Biggs, who hails from Ormond Beach, Florida, had identified himself as a Proud Boys organizer.
Prior to this, he had served in the US army for eight years before receiving a medical discharge in 2013.
He then worked as a correspondent for Infowars, a website operated by conspiracy theorist Alex Jones.
In addition to Biggs and Rehl, Tarrio and Nordean were convicted of seditious conspiracy charges, a rarely pursued offense in the US dating back to the country’s Civil War era.