January 30, 2023
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U.S. Capitol Breach: Leader, member of Oath Keepers convicted of seditious conspiracy

The Founder and Leader of the Oath Keepers, Elmer Stewart Rhodes III, together with the Leader of the Florida chapter of the organization, Kelly Meggs, has been found guilty of seditious conspiracy and other charges for crimes related to the breach of the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.

According to available documents, their actions disrupted a joint session of the U.S. Congress that was in the process of ascertaining and counting the electoral votes related to the presidential election.

Three additional defendants, who were leaders and associates of the organization are Kenneth Harrelson, Jessica Watkins, and Thomas Caldwell.

They were found guilty of related felony charges. The verdict followed an eight-week trial and three days of deliberations. No sentencing date was set.

Rhodes, 57, of Granbury, Texas, also was found guilty of obstruction of an official proceeding and tampering with documents and proceedings.

Meggs, 53, of Dunnellon, Florida, also was found guilty of conspiracy to obstruct an official proceeding, obstruction of an official proceeding, conspiracy to prevent an officer from discharging duties, and tampering with documents or proceedings.

Harrelson, 42, of Titusville, Florida, was found guilty of obstruction of an official proceeding, conspiracy to prevent an officer from discharging duties, and tampering with documents or proceedings.

In in this video, U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland is giving public remarks just one day after a federal jury found the Oath Keepers founder, Stewart Rhodes, and a fellow member of the group guilty of seditious conspiracy for their roles in the January 6 U.S. Capitol attack.

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Watkins, 40, of Woodstock, Ohio, was found guilty of conspiracy to obstruct an official proceeding, obstruction of an official proceeding, interfering with law enforcement officers during a civil disorder, and conspiracy to prevent an officer from discharging duties.

Caldwell, 68, of Berryville, Virginia, was found guilty of obstruction of an official proceeding, and tampering with documents or proceedings.

According to the government’s evidence, the Oath Keepers are a large but loosely organized collection of individuals, some of whom are associated with militias. Following the Nov. 3, 2020, presidential election, Rhodes, Meggs, and others began plotting to oppose by force the lawful transfer of presidential power.

“Today the jury returned a verdict convicting all defendants of criminal conduct, including two Oath Keepers leaders for seditious conspiracy against the United States,” said Attorney General Merrick B. Garland.

“The Justice Department is committed to holding accountable those criminally responsible for the assault on our democracy on January 6, 2021. The prosecutors and agents on this case worked tirelessly, with extraordinary skill, and in the best traditions of the Department of Justice.”

FBI Director Christopher Wray stated, “As this case shows, breaking the law in an attempt to undermine the functioning of American democracy will not be tolerated.”

“The FBI will always uphold the rights of all citizens who peacefully engage in First Amendment protected activities, but we and our partners will continue to hold accountable those who engaged in illegal acts regarding the January 6, 2021, siege on the U.S. Capitol.”

“This case reaffirms the strength of our democracy and the institutions that protect and preserve it, including our criminal justice system,” said U.S. Attorney Matthew M. Graves for the District of Columbia.

“Over a period of many weeks, a fair and impartial jury heard evidence in a search for the truth of the conduct of these defendants before, during, and after the events of Jan. 6, 2021.”

“Democracy depends on the peaceful transfer of power. By attempting to block the certification of the 2020 presidential election results, the defendants flouted and trampled the rule of law,” said Assistant Director in Charge Steven M. D’Antuono of the FBI Washington Field Office.

“This case shows that force and violence are no match for our country’s justice system.”

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