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WASHINGTON – A federal judge on Thursday sentenced former far-right Proud Boys leader Joseph Biggs to 17 years in prison, after a jury convicted him of seditious conspiracy for his role in storming the US Capitol in a failed bid to overturn Donald Trump’s 2020 election defeat.

The sentence handed down by US District Judge Timothy Kelly is below both US sentencing guidelines and far less than the prison term sought by federal prosecutors.

Judge Kelly said he was not “trying to minimise the violence” that occurred on Jan 6, but he noted that the event was still not on par with a mass casualty event and imposing a stricter sentence could create disparities.

Ahead of his sentencing, Biggs apologised for his actions as he faced Judge Kelly, choking up as he spoke about his daughter whom he said was a sexual assault victim who needs him.

“I was seduced by the crowd, and I just moved forward. My curiosity got the better of me,” said Biggs. “I’m not a terrorist. I don’t have hate in my heart.”

Federal prosecutors had hoped for a 33-year sentence for Biggs and a 30-year term for Biggs’ co-defendant, Zachary Rehl, who will be sentenced later on Thursday.

Together, Biggs and Rehl will become the first Proud Boys convicted of seditious conspiracy to be sentenced for their roles in the Jan 6, 2021, attack, which resulted in the deaths of five people.

The government’s sentencing recommendations exceeded the longest sentence handed out so far over the assault by the former president’s supporters on the Capitol, including Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes, who was sentenced in May to serve 18 years.

“These are very serious crimes,” federal prosecutor Jason McCullough said on Thursday. “There is a reason why we will hold our collective breaths as we approach future elections… They pushed this to the edge of a constitutional crisis.”

Former Proud Boys chairman Enrique Tarrio and another former leader, Ethan Nordean, were scheduled for sentencing on Wednesday, but their hearings were postponed after the judge called out sick.

The attack was meant to stop Congress from certifying Democratic President Joe Biden’s election win, which Trump falsely claims was the result of widespread fraud.

Trump currently holds a wide lead in the race for the Republican nomination to challenge Mr Biden in 2024. Ex-Proud Boys leader given 17-year sentence over US Capitol attack

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