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August 18, 2023

Philly Proud Boys leader could get 30-year prison sentence for role in U.S. Capitol attack

Zachary Rehl was convicted of seditious conspiracy. The longest prison sentence given to a Jan. 6 conspirator so far was 18 years

Zachary Rehl, the former leader of the Philadelphia chapter of the Proud Boys, a far-right extremist group, could serve up to 30 years in prison for his role in the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol.

Federal prosecutors recommended the lengthiest sentences yet for a group of Jan. 6 conspirators in court documents filed Thursday. In addition to three decades for Rehl, the feds asked the U.S. District Court for Washington, D.C. to sentence Enrique Tarrio, the former chairman of the Proud Boys, and Joseph Briggs, a prominent Proud Boys organizer, to 33 years in prison. 

Prior to these recommendations, the longest sentence prosecutors had requested was 25 years for Stewart Rhodes, the founder and leader of the Oath Keepers, another far-right extremist group. He ultimately received 18 years, which he is currently serving.

Rehl was arrested at his Port Richmond home two months after after leading more than 100 followers in an attack on the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. According to the sentencing memorandum, Rehl and others hand-picked "rally boys" and led them to a "vulnerable" entrance on the west front of the Capitol shortly before the certification of the results of the 2020 presidential election was scheduled to begin. 

"These defendants and the men in their command saw themselves as the foot soldiers of the right," prosecutors wrote. "They were prepared to use, and they did use, force to stop the 'traitors' from stealing the election."

As described in the document, Rehl and his co-conspirators tossed aside bike racks and other barriers in their way as they led a charge toward the Capitol, and "violently tore down a black metal fence" even as law enforcement attempted to control the crowd. Rehl later sprayed an officer in the face with "an irritant," and was "among the first across the trampled barricade."

Prior to the attack, Rehl and fellow Proud Boy leaders instructed their men not to wear colors, to bring protective gear and means to communicate and "fit in or f*** off." 

Rehl was convicted — along with Tarrio, Briggs, Ethan Nordean and Dominic Pezzola — in May of seditious conspiracy for his role in the attack, which left seven dead and more than 150 injured.

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