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, DC, 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 plotting to stop the certification of Joe Biden’s 2020 electoral college victory, a conspiracy that culminated in the attack on the US Capitol.
The convictions are another win for the Justice Department who brought the rare charge against members of the far-right militia early last year. After a 10-week trial this fall, Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes as well as Kelly Meggs, a leader of the group in Florida, were the first of the group to be found guilty of seditious conspiracy.
A sentencing date was not set, but all four defendants will be placed on house arrest until they are sentenced, Judge Amit Mehta said Monday. They cannot have firearms in their house, and all four will have limitations on their phone communications and internet use.
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 is talented at hiding his identity; Moerschel, an alleged part of the so-called stack formation that prosecutors said acted as a “battering ram,” pushing through the mob and into the Capitol; and Vallejo, one of the alleged leaders of the armed quick reaction force, who prosecutors said called for “guerilla war” the morning of January 6.
In addition to the seditious conspiracy charges, Minuta, Hackett, Moerschel and Vallejo were also found guilty of conspiracy to obstruct an official proceeding, obstruction of an official proceeding and aiding and abetting, as well as conspiracy to prevent a member of Congress from discharging their official duties.
Hackett was found guilty of tampering with documents or proceedings.
Hackett and Moerschel were found not guilty of destruction of government property. Minuta and Moerschel were found not guilty of tampering with documents or proceedings.
Jury deliberations in the case began last week, after prosecutor Louis Manzo, during his closing arguments, walked the jury through weeks of trial testimony and told the jurors to ignore defense attorneys’ arguments that the four men are innocent because they were merely following Rhodes.
In their own closing arguments, defense attorneys for the four men argued that their clients had not conspired together to stop a Biden presidency, saying that the government’s case presented no proof of a plan to storm the US Capitol. The attorneys also repeatedly argued that not only was the government manipulating evidence but that there was no proof of a conspiracy between the group, saying that while the jury might find statements from their clients offensive, that wasn’t reason to convict them of plotting to stop the certification of the election.
This story has been updated with additional details.
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