Proud Boy Joe Biggs sentenced to 17 years, Zachary Rehl gets 15


I will have a full report to come later for emptywheel but at the E. Barrett Prettyman courthouse in Washington, D.C. this afternoon, U.S. District Judge Tim Kelly sentenced Proud Boy and former InfoWars contributor convicted of seditious conspiracy, Joseph Biggs, to 17 years in prison.

Prosecutors called for 33 years for Biggs, so Kelly’s decision came considerably under that total but Kelly did find that Biggs’ tearing down of a metal fence with co-defendant Ethan Nordean that was meant to keep the mob at bay, constituted a terrorism enhancement. It was this deliberate effort, Kelly found, that allowed the Proud Boys to achieve their objective: to stop the certification of the 2020 election by force.

Proud Boy Zachary Rehl’s sentencing hearing began at 2:15 p.m ET. Prosecutors sought 30 years and on Thursday, the court found that because he committed perjury on the stand the guidelines would shift to 30 years to life.

But in the end, Judge Kelly sentenced Rehl to 15 years in prison. Rehl is pictured below pepper-spraying police.

If you want to read through the live-thread I’ve put together for emptywheel, check out the link here.

NOTE: Emptywheel is again supporting Brandi Buchman’s coverage of the Proud Boys hearings live from the courthouse. Please consider making a donation to emptywheel as she continues her reporting through the final Proud Boys sentencing hearing for Henry “Enrique” Tarrio scheduled for Sept. 5. 

118 replies
    • Sue Romano says:

      Excellent coverage, Brandi. I’ve followed all 3 now; Pezzolo’s wife testimony ‘You’re a fucking idiot’ and his mom’s looking out for his meals is priceless. Rest up for Nordean. Kenerson is impressive, as is Kelly in his responses to defense and AUSA.

  1. T A EZ Frye says:

    Maybe some people will learn that a destination riot is no way to spend your vacation.

    [Thanks for updating your username to meet the 8 letter minimum. /~Rayne]

      • Wajimsays says:

        17 years is a long time in the federal cooler. How many years do you see Biggs actually serving, bmaz?

        • bmaz says:

          14.5, which is the mandatory 85% under federal law. Then followed by reentry stay in a halfway house. He’ll be gone for a long time.

        • SteveBev says:

          Does the 3 year supervised release run from the end of the 14.5 years or is it a period of supervision in addition to whatever supervision he would be subject to as part of the early release provisions?

        • Harry Eagar says:

          Young man I know got 13 years for drugs, A very good sefender got a deal for 2 with cooperation. While in custody, the young man was in the office and reached over for a piece of candy. US attorney revoked the deal ad he went back to serve 13.

          17 strikes me as derisory

        • bmaz says:

          Okay, this strikes me as absolute bullshit. I have never seen anything like that in my life, much less over a piece of candy. Prove it or shut up.

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          Candy in a bowl on anyone’s desk is fair game. If it’s not, it belongs in the drawer. And please stop with that crap. If remotely true, I doubt it, he had the world’s shittiest PD.

        • David F. Snyder says:

          I think 17 is fine: it’s not overly punitive but it still keeps him off the streets long enough to declaw him, so to speak. I wonder if he’ll write a “My Struggle” book, like his hero Adolph did while incarcerated.

      • vinniegambone says:

        Pipe bomber could be lone wolf, but unlikely.

        Down the road, say, April 2024, one may hope DOJ interviews, convicts to see if anyone would like to provide information to reduce sentence.
        What’s best guess how many more like minded insurrectionist are still out there and will be once Trump is gone.

  2. klynn says:

    Thank you for your coverage Brandi.

    Any clarity on why Judge Kelly sentenced 17 years, down from the 33 years called for? It’s close to cutting the 33 in half.

    • bmaz says:

      Because he thought that was what was proper. Nobody should ever hope that prosecutors blithely get the max they ask for.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        You mean Trump is unlikely to serve 641 years, if convicted on all counts? Sad. What will the media exaggerate next? :-)

        • AirportCat says:

          That’s just ridiculous on its face. Ronny Jackson said Trump could live to be 200, in which case he would not serve much more than 120 years, allowing time for appeals.

      • SteveBev says:


        Pending a proper full report of the hearing I cobbled together bits from CNN and NBC

        Our Constitution and laws give you so many important rights that Americans have fought and died for and that you yourself put on a uniform to defend,” District Judge Timothy Kelly said in handing down the sentence. “People around the world would give anything for these rights.”
        But January 6, 2021, Kelly said, “broke our tradition of the peaceful transferring of power” in the United States.

        “The nature of the constitutional moment we were in that day is something that is so sensitive that it deserves a significant sentence,” he said.

        Biggs, Kelly ruled earlier in the hearing Thursday, was subject to harsher sentencing penalties for domestic terrorism because he ripped down a fence on Capitol grounds during the riot that separated law enforcement officers from the mob, taking the mob one step closer to breaching the Capitol.

        saying that he did not want to “minimize the violence that did occur” during the Capitol attack, but that he had to be conscious of what other people have been sentenced to for conduct related to January 6, 2021 as to not create large or unwarranted disparities.

        Despite applying the terrorism enhancement to Biggs, Kelly agreed that enhancement “overstates” Biggs’ conduct.

        “It’s not my job to label you a terrorist and my sentence today won’t do that, no matter what it is,” he told Biggs before delivering the sentence.

        • SteveBev says:

          It is also interesting to note what Kelly also said about the terrorism enhancement per Brandi B Xitter thread

          “Kelly: i would have imposed precisely the same sentence had the terrorism guideline not applied. I did not bring it all the way down to where the guideline applied but I can say, if the terrorism adjustment hadn’t applied, would’ve sentenced him to the same.”

    • bcw says:

      Judge Tim Kelly was appointed by Trump and is a Federalist Society member – so clown.

      [Welcome back to emptywheel. THIRD REQUEST: Please choose and use a unique username with a minimum of 8 letters. We are moving to a new minimum standard to support community security. Thanks. /~Rayne]

    • RobertS721 says:

      This sentence is in line with what other Jan-6ers have gotten. Ken White has gotten into this – the feds are going by sentencing guidelines. Its basically a big table with lots of adjustment factors. Its complicated.

      The Judge has to bring that in line with the big picture, including what other people are getting.

      This is commonplace – Trump is potentially on the hook for decades of prison time per the guidelines, but if found guilty is likely to get a fraction of that. Just like any other white-collar offender.

      • bmaz says:

        The whole “white collar” versus…..what, “blue collar”, thing is such bullshit. Much of that gripe is due to mandatory sentencing laws passed by your Congress, not inequity in courts. Don’t make people here stupid with your commentary.

  3. BirdGardener says:

    Thanks, Brandi!

    I cannot wrap my head around the following quote from the Politico article:

    Biggs’ attorney Norm Pattis argued that too harsh a sentence would erode trust in government and have a similarly perverse result: making Americans fearful of attending protests.

    “I think we’re an ongoing threat to ourselves in this republic right now,” he said. “Just how, how we are in a situation where a presidential candidate, indicted four times by state and federal officials, is in a statistical dead heat with the incumbent. … The government’s suggestion that [Biggs] is some domestic threat, he’s going to go out and make things worse — you just can’t get much worse than that.”

    Fells like I don’t have the full context of this quote—how can this be coming from Pattis? The irony, and his obliviousness to it, reminds me of Animal Farm, where up is down, black is white, and some animals are more equal than others.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      It is intentionally obtuse, for theatrical effect. The argument does not reflect reality, or social or criminal justice. It’s not intended for the courts, but for Trump and the Maghats.

      It’s one thing for the average person to have trouble wrapping their heads around that – but it’s criminal for the media not to help them.

    • TPA_kyle says:

      Nonsense. No American should ever be afraid of attending any lawful protest or demonstration. When you break the law in the process of that action we’re learning that you will eventually be prosecuted no matter how large the group!

      • Peterr says:

        As Dr King and other civil rights protesters demonstrated, engaging in civil disobedience does not give someone a free pass from prosecution.

        By intentionally subjecting themselves to prosecution, those who protest are seeking to call attention to the unjust nature of the laws. In some cases, the sheer number of protesters was intended to overwhelm the city jails, inviting further scrutiny of the cause.

        Accepting the risk of prosecution, conviction, and penalty (fines, imprisonment, or both) is part and parcel of civil disobedience. The goal is to make things so awkward, difficult, and uncomfortable for those in power, that they seek to negotiate. The Montgomery Bus boycott is one great example, and King’s later Letter from Birmingham Jail discusses this at more length.

        • derelict says:

          this is precisely my take on it, and why that argument seems so ridiculous. it was also floated by the defense, paraphrased as ‘being held accountable for violent rhetoric if the protest takes a violent turn’ — of course you’ll be held accountable. if you’re going to go to a protest you’re accepting the potential consequences in the first place, even moreso if you’re part of the group moving it towards violent/illegal behavior. to think otherwise is ludicrous. this newfound desire to wear the first amendment as some kind of impenetrable armor protecting all manner of behavior is exactly the kind of critical thinking short circuit that the right wing media loves to exploit, and this is the kind of harebrained arguments it generates.

      • vinniegambone says:

        Um, i must admit, given the numbers of mass murders in public places, I worry shootings will continue increasingly,.
        ” i ain’t afraid of dying, i just dont want to be there when it happens. “

  4. John Paul Jones says:

    I’ve been reading the thread, but I’m not an expert Tweeter, so I occasionally can’t tell whether I should be scrolling up or down, and sometimes I do, yes, lose the thread. But it’s great work you’re doing. A sort of “you are there” vibe which is worth its weight in gold. Thank you for doing this. (And I look forward to the book!)

  5. timbozone says:

    I’m curious whether Biggs will file for a review of the “domestic terrorism” enhancement. Seems kind of lame application of the law if it’s just for tearing down a temporary chain-link fence…

    • SteveBev says:

      The fact that Kelly said he would have imposed the same sentence whether or not the enhancement applied adds an interesting wrinkle to the matter I suspect.

    • Out of Nowhere says:

      Really? The SG references the “domestic terrorism” definition contained in the US Code. The Code, at 18 USC 2331(5) states:

      (5)the term “domestic terrorism” means activities that—
      (A)involve acts dangerous to human life that are a violation of the criminal laws of the United States or of any State;
      (B)appear to be intended—
      (i)to intimidate or coerce a civilian population;
      (ii)to influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion; or
      (iii)to affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination, or kidnapping

      Seems to fit the crime when the intention was to release the mob to prevent Congress from certifying the vote.

  6. Commander Ogg says:

    IANAL. Any chance the DOJ might appeal the sentence (like they did for Stewart Rhodes) that they feel is not long enough? And how successful are such appeals in your opinion?

      • Joe Stewart says:

        I believe that if the defendants had black skin, “tough on crime” Kelly’s sentence would have been far closer to the “guidelines.”
        Secondly, it’s ironic that on the same day Trump’s appointee handed down a “miracle” sentence, Thomas released his financial disclosure in which he asserted the he “understood” the previous financial reporting guidelines did not require him to disclose the gifts his friends gave him.
        Feels to me like only schmucks conform to guidelines as neither life-time appointee felt it necessary to align their decisions with guidelines. Apparently I’m a schmuck and neither of them are.

        • bmaz says:

          Or you are just full of uninformed shit. And, you clearly are. Also, making this about racial disparity, and disparate crimes, is simply ignorant. Don’t do that here.

        • Joe Stewart says:

          I acknowledge my ignorance of sentencing practices – so, yes I’m uninformed.
          I’m unable to locate statistics by judge nor by sentence length (e.g. 30-year sentences varied downward by 10%/20%).
          What I did find indicates that in DC 50% varied downward from the guidelines, 25% based on DOJ motion and 27% by judges alone.
          Table 8,

          Kelly’s decision puts him in the 27% of cases category.

          However, as you note, there are no truly comparable cases as these people tried to end our social experiment, to seize power for themselves.

        • bmaz says:

          There are 50 states that all have different laws from the common federal jurisdiction (not to mention territories). Even in the federal jurisdiction, the districts and circuits differ somewhat. It would be a very long discussion.

          And Kelly was fine with his sentences. It is okay.

  7. Rapier says:

    So I guess Judge Kelly is on George Soros’ payroll too, like John Durham and most of us of course.

    [Welcome back to emptywheel. SECOND REQUEST: Please choose and use a unique username with a minimum of 8 letters. We are moving to a new minimum standard to support community security. Thanks. (FYI: As of this comment you now have published 619 comments here so far — not enough to meet the 1000-comment threshold for grandfathering usernames, and 9 more since you were asked to change your name.) /~Rayne]

  8. FiestyBlueBird says:

    It would be interesting to see grand totals for incarceration years/days imposed for all. Maybe that does exist somewhere.

    DOJ’s table at link below doesn’t yet have today’s additions.

    So many lives ruined because of the former president’s lies and call for action. Granted, many/most(?) of these people were already trouble waiting to happen, but still…

    The table link above can be found on this page, as DOJ periodically updates:

  9. Rayne says:

    Cargill: Nope, nope, nope. If you don’t like comments in threads or moderation here, the solution is easy. Move on. Attacking a contributor/moderator doesn’t improve the site, either.

    Have a nice day.

    Moderator for emptywheel

  10. retired railroad switchperson says:

    What happened to Norm Pattis’ request that Biggs’ remarks about his daughter be sealed? Seemed like an odd request given that Biggs’ statement was in open court with Brandi & others reporting live. Did Judge Kelly rule, or make any mention of it at all?

  11. ButteredToast says:

    Brandi reports: “As Pezzola walks out of the courtroom, he pumps his fist in the a[i]r and shouts “Trump won!” He’d earlier told the court: “There is no place in my future for groups or politics whatsoever.” ( Clearly this is a guy with a great capacity for self-reflection and critical thinking.

  12. pdaly says:

    Thanks for the writeup, Brandi.

    As an aside, I keep marveling at the coin pictured at the top of this post, the Proud Boys’ choice to make a coin depicting Trump as a grotesque, gagging on its oversized tongue.
    A 3-D version should definitely be placed on the gutter of a future Church of Mammon.

    (Or is this coin fail just reflecting a limitation of their artistic abilities and sensibilities?)

  13. Charles Wolf says:

    Always save the best for last (unless it’s weed).
    The Grand Prize for a civilian achieving the longest prison sentence for participating in the attempted coup will go to some soon to be forgotten dude named EnriQue.
    Far out.

Comments are closed.