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Judge sentences ex-Proud Boys leaders to 17 and 15-year terms for US Capitol attack


WASHINGTON, Aug 31 (Reuters) - A federal judge on Thursday sentenced former far-right Proud Boys leaders Joseph Biggs to 17 years in prison and his co-defendant Zachary Rehl to 15 years, after a jury convicted them of seditious conspiracy for storming the U.S. Capitol in a failed bid to overturn Donald Trump's 2020 election defeat.

The prison terms handed down by U.S. District Judge Timothy Kelly for Biggs and Rehl, the first Proud Boys convicted of seditious conspiracy to be sentenced for their roles in the Jan. 6, 2021, attack, were below U.S. sentencing guidelines and far lower than the 33-year and 30-year terms sought by federal prosecutors.

He also apologized for letting his family down and asked if Kelly could send him to a federal prison close to his home.

Prosecutors calculated their sentencing recommendation for Rehl, in part, based on evidence he committed perjury when he took the stand in his own defense during the trial and lied about assaulting police with a chemical spray.

"You did spray that officer and you lied about it," Kelly told him, adding these were "bad facts."

The Jan. 6 attack at the Capitol was meant to stop Congress from certifying Democratic President Joe Biden's election, which Trump falsely claims was the result of widespread fraud.

"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.”

Trump has a wide lead in the race for the Republican nomination to challenge Biden in 2024.