Members of the Oath Keepers found guilty of seditious conspiracy

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Three members of the Oath Keepers and a fourth person associated with the far-right militia group were convicted of seditious conspiracy by a Washington, D.C. grand jury on Monday for their role in the January 6, 2021, insurrection.

The four men – Roberto Minuta, Joseph Hackett, David Moerschel and Edward Vallejo – were accused of conspiring to prevent the certification of Joe Biden’s 2020 Electoral College victory, a conspiracy that culminated in the attack on the United States Capitol.

The convictions are another victory for the Justice Department, which brought the rare indictment against far-right militia members early last year. After a 10-week trial this fall, Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes, as well as Kelly Meggs, the group’s Florida leader, were the first of the group to be found guilty of seditious conspiracy.

A sentencing date has not been set, but all four defendants will be placed under house arrest until they are sentenced, Judge Amit Mehta said on Monday. They cannot have firearms in the house and all four will have limitations on telephone communications and Internet usage.

The defendants on trial in the case were Minuta, an Oath Keeper from New Jersey who prosecutors described as one of Rhodes’ “most trusted men”; Hackett, an alleged recruiter for the Florida Oath Keeper who prosecutors said was talented at concealing his identity; Moerschel, an alleged part of the so-called pile formation that prosecutors said acted like a “ram”, pushing through the crowd and into the Capitol; and Vallejo, one of the alleged leaders of the armed rapid reaction force, which prosecutors said called for a “guerrilla war” on the morning of Jan. 6.

In addition to the seditious conspiracy charges, Minuta, Hackett, Moerschel, and Vallejo were also found guilty of conspiracy to obstruct official process, obstruction of official process, and aiding and abetting, as well as conspiracy to prevent a member of Congress from discharging his or her official duties. .

Hackett was found guilty of tampering with documents or processes.

Hackett and Moerschel were found not guilty of destroying government property. Minuta and Moerschel were found not guilty of tampering with documents or processes.

Jury deliberations in the case began last week after prosecutor Louis Manzo, during closing arguments, steered the jury through weeks of trial testimony and told jurors to ignore defense attorneys’ arguments that the four men are innocent because they were just following Rhodes.

In their own closing arguments, defense attorneys for the four men argued that their clients had not conspired together to prevent Biden’s presidency, saying the administration’s case did not present any evidence of a plot to invade the US Capitol. The lawyers also repeatedly argued that not only was the government manipulating evidence, but also that there was no proof of a conspiracy between the group, saying that while the jury might find their clients’ statements offensive, that was not grounds for convicting them. for conspiring to disrupt election certification.

This story has been updated with additional details.

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