Thursday, May 25, 2023

Court Sentences Two Oath Keepers Leaders on Seditious Conspiracy and Other Charges Related to U.S. Capitol Breach


Two leaders of the Oath Keepers, Elmer Stewart Rhodes III and Kelly Meggs, have been sentenced for their involvement in seditious conspiracy and other charges related to the breach of the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021. The breach disrupted a joint session of the U.S. Congress that was in the process of certifying the electoral votes for the presidential election. These sentences mark a significant step towards holding accountable those responsible for the attack on the democratic institutions of the United States.

Elmer Stewart Rhodes III, the founder and leader of the Oath Keepers, has been sentenced to 18 years in prison followed by three years of supervised release. This is the longest sentence, to date, for anyone involved in the assault on law enforcement and the U.S. Capitol Building. Kelly Meggs, the leader of the Florida chapter of the Oath Keepers, has been sentenced to 12 years in prison followed by three years of supervised release.

Attorney General Merrick B. Garland emphasized the gravity of their actions, stating that the United States proved in trial that the Oath Keepers had plotted for months to violently disrupt the peaceful transfer of power from one administration to the next. Garland further affirmed the Justice Department's commitment to hold accountable those criminally responsible for the January 6th attack on democracy.

FBI Director Christopher Wray echoed this sentiment, emphasizing the FBI's dedication to ensuring that individuals who committed criminal acts on January 6, 2021, and those who conspired to interfere with the lawful transfer of power, are brought to justice. The FBI will continue working with its partners to investigate and prosecute those who violated the law during the siege on the U.S. Capitol.

The sentencing of Rhodes and Meggs affirms the rule of law and imposes substantial consequences on individuals who conspired to violently attack the government and democracy. U.S. Attorney Matthew M. Graves for the District of Columbia highlighted the significance of these convictions, noting that more people were convicted of seditious conspiracy in connection with the siege of the Capitol than in any other criminal event since the statute was enacted during the Civil War.

During the trial, it was revealed that the Oath Keepers, a loosely organized collection of individuals associated with militias, had plotted to oppose the lawful transfer of presidential power following the November 3, 2020, election. Through coordinated planning, encrypted communications, and paramilitary training, Rhodes, Meggs, and others intended to disrupt the certification of the electoral college vote on January 6, 2021.

The evidence presented demonstrated that the defendants organized teams prepared to use force, transported firearms and ammunition, and brought paramilitary gear to the Capitol grounds. They breached the Capitol, assaulted law enforcement officers, and plotted to continue opposing the transfer of power even after January 6, 2021.

The breach of the U.S. Capitol on that fateful day saw a large crowd forcing their way into the building, assaulting police officers, and hindering the certification of the electoral college vote. Rhodes and Meggs played prominent roles in the events, with Rhodes directing his followers and Meggs marching with other Oath Keepers in a formation towards the Capitol.

The sentences handed down to Rhodes and Meggs demonstrate the commitment of law enforcement and the justice system to address the crimes committed during the Capitol breach. Over 1,000 individuals have been arrested in connection with the breach in the 28 months since that day, with ongoing investigations and prosecutions still underway.

As the justice system continues its work to hold those responsible accountable, individuals with information related to the breach are encouraged to contact the FBI through the dedicated tip line or online portal. The collaborative efforts of law enforcement agencies and the commitment to upholding the rule of law are essential in preserving the integrity of democratic institutions and ensuring the security of the United States.

The sentencing of Elmer Stewart Rhodes III and Kelly Meggs serves as a reminder that acts aimed at undermining the democratic process will not go unpunished. It sends a clear message that the United States is dedicated to protecting its institutions and upholding the principles of democracy, safeguarding the peaceful transition of power for future generations.

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