Stuart Rose, the founder of the Oath Keepers extremist group, was sentenced to 18 years in prison on Thursday for orchestrating a week-long plot in which his followers stormed the US Capitol to oust 2020 election-winning President Joe Biden from the White House. was attacked.
Rhodes, 58, is the first person to be convicted of conspiracy to commit sedition on January 6, 2021, and his sentence is the longest of hundreds of Capitol riot cases to date.
It marks another milestone in the Justice Department’s disorganized investigation that on January 6 found guilty of conspiracy to incite against top leaders of two far-right extremist groups.
“The Department of Justice will continue to do everything possible to hold accountable those responsible for the January 6 attack on our democracy,” Attorney General Merrick Garland said in a statement.
In the January 6 case, the judge for the first time agreed with the Justice Department that Rose’s actions should be punished for “terrorism”, increasing the sentence recommended under federal guidelines. The decision could foreshadow longer prison sentences for other far-right extremists, including former Proud Voice leader Enrique Tarrio, who was convicted of lesser charges.
Before announcing Rhodes’ sentence, US District Judge Amit Mehta described the rebellious Rhodes as a continuing threat to the United States and democracy. Judge expressed fears that what happened on January 6 could be repeated, saying that Americans “will now collectively hold their breath as the election approaches.”
The judge told Rose, “You’re smart, you’re charismatic, you’re charming, and honestly, that’s what makes you dangerous.” “The moment you are released, you will always be ready to take up arms against your government.”
Rose did not use the opportunity to address the judge to express remorse or plead for leniency, but instead accused prosecutors and the Biden administration of undermining their actions on January 6, claiming she was a “political prisoner”. Tried to.
“I am a political prisoner, and like President Trump, my only crime is opposing those who are destroying our country.
Mehta protested that Rhodes was not prosecuted because of his political beliefs, but for actions the judge described as “crimes against the people of the country”.
The judge said, “Mr. Rose, you are not a political prisoner.
Another sworn-in convicted of conspiracy to commit treason along with Rose, the head of the Florida chapter, Kelly Meigs, was sentenced Thursday afternoon to 12 years in prison.
Meigs said he was sorry for his involvement in the riots which left “a blind spot on the nation”, but insisted he never planned to enter the Capitol.
The judge found that Meigs did not pose a permanent threat to the state like Rhodes, but said that “you can’t resort to violence just because you don’t agree with the elected person.”
The other sworn defendants are expected to be sentenced on Friday and next week.
A Washington, D.C. The jury found Rose guilty of conspiracy to forcibly obstruct the transfer of presidential powers. Prosecutors alleged that Rose and his followers recruited members, stockpiled weapons, and formed a “rapid response force” team at a Virginia hotel that could deliver guns to the nation’s capital if they agreed to support their plot. be necessary for No weapon was deployed.
In one of the most consequential cases of the Capitol riot brought by the government, it sought to prove that the attacks by right-wing extremists such as the Oath Keepers were not a momentary protest, but the culmination of a week. They are plotting to overturn Biden’s victory.
Rose’s January 2022 arrest was the culmination of a decade-long course of insurgency that included an armed standoff with federal officers at Bundy Ranch in Nevada. In 2009, the Yale Law School graduate founded Oath Keepers and turned it into the largest anti-government militia in the United States.
The judge agreed with the prosecutor’s request for a so-called “terrorism enhancement”, following allegations that the oath takers sought to influence the government through “threats or coercion”. Judges in the less serious Jan. 6 case had previously denied such a request.
Prosecutors sought a 25-year sentence for Rose, arguing that a longer sentence was needed to prevent future political violence.
Assistant US Attorney Catherine Rakoczy pointed to interviews and speeches Rhodes gave in prison repeating lies about the 2020 election being stolen.
Prosecutors said that in remarks a few days earlier, Rose had called for “regime change”.
Rose, of Granbury, Texas, plans to appeal the sentence.
Defense attorney Philip Linder told the judge that prosecutors were unfairly trying to “confront” Rhodes on January 6, adding that if Rhodes really wanted to break Congressional certification, he would have to go to the Capitol. More oath keepers could have been found. Electoral College Vote.
“If you want to put your face on J6 [January 6], you can put your face on Trump, the right-wing media, the politicians, everybody who spreads that story,” Linder said.
Rhodes’ conviction may indicate the punishment that prosecutors will seek for Tarrio and other Proud Boys leaders convicted of conspiracy to commit treason. They will be sentenced in August and September.
Those sworn in said they had no plans to storm the Capitol or block Congress from certifying Biden’s victory. The defense tried to find out that none of the messages from the oath keepers suggested a clear plan to storm the Capitol. But prosecutors said those sworn in saw an opportunity to achieve their goal of stopping the transfer of power and acted when rioters began storming the building.
The messages, recordings and other evidence presented at the trial suggest that Rose and his followers are increasingly angered by the prospect of Biden becoming president after the 2020 election. In an encrypted chat two days after the election, Rose told his followers to prepare “in mind, body and spirit” for “civil war”.
The longest sentence in more than 1,000 Capitol riots before Thursday was 14 years for a man with a criminal record for attacking officers with pepper spray and a chair during a raid on the Capitol. More than 500 convicts were sentenced, with more than half serving prison sentences and the rest serving probation or house arrest.