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May 04, 2023

Philly Proud Boys leader guilty of seditious conspiracy for U.S. Capitol attack on Jan. 6

Zach Rehl, a Port Richmond resident, was among five leaders of the extremist group on trial in federal court in Washington, D.C.

Zachary Rehl, the leader of the Philadelphia chapter of the Proud Boys, and three other leaders of the extremist group were found guilty on Thursday of seditious conspiracy and other crimes for plotting the attacks on the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.

Rehl, 37, was arrested at his home in Port Richmond in March 2021, weeks after photos circulated of him inside the Capitol during the riots. He had been in charge of the local Proud Boys organization since 2018 and on Jan. 6, 2021, led a group of more than 100 followers toward the Capitol building.

Rehl had been on trial with other Proud Boys leaders Henry "Enrique" Tarrio, Joseph Biggs, Ethan Nordean, and Dominic Pezzola. Tarrio is the Proud Boys former chairman. All five had been charged with seditious conspiracy, which accused them of attempting to undermine the U.S. government by force on Jan. 6 by interfering with Congress' certification of the results of the 2020 presidential election between Donald Trump and Joe Biden.

The men could face a maximum of up to 20 years in prison on the sedition charges. A sentencing date has not been announced, but U.S. District Judge Timothy Kelly expects it to happen in August, the Washington Post reported

The jury did not reach a guilty verdict on the sedition charge against Pezzola, who had been found guilty of obstructing the joint session of Congress and assaulting a police officer. Pezzola was not a leader of any Proud Boys chapters and was not involved in any of the organization's group chats, CNN said.

A verdict was not reached and mistrial was declared on charges of assaulting, resisting, or impeding officers, destruction of government property, and aiding and abetting for the men on trial. 

The jury in the federal trial began deliberating on the case a week ago. The judge instructed jurors to continue deliberating on the seditious conspiracy charged against Pezzola, along with other undecided charges against Rehl and the other defendants.

During the trial, prosecutors presented evidence that Rehl had sent messages to his mother, saying "I'm so f***ing proud," of the "raid" on the Capitol, and in a social media pos, investigators said he wrote, "I'm proud as f*** what we accomplished yesterday.

When he testified in his own defense during the trial, Rehl downplayed his intentions of going to Washington, D.C., claiming he only went there to protest.

"It was terrible," Rehl said on the witness stand. "There's no way to chop it up. I think a lot of cops were assaulted. Parts of the building were destroyed, I guess you could say. At the time I didn't think I did anything wrong."

The Proud Boys describes itself as a "Western chauvinist" organization for men, but it is widely regarded as a hate group. Its members have been known to promote anti-Semitic, anti-Muslim and white nationalist rhetoric.

This story has been updated as developments became available