More oath keepers convicted of sedition in US Capitol attack face sentencing

By Sarah N. Lynch

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Two other members of the far-right militant group Oath Keepers are set to be sentenced on Thursday for seditious conspiracy and other crimes stemming from the January 6, 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol by then-President Donald Trump. . supporters.

Federal prosecutors are asking U.S. District Judge Amit Mehta to sentence Roberto Minuta and Edward Vallejo to 17 years in prison each after they were sentenced in January alongside two other Oath Keepers members.

If the judge follows that recommendation, these would be the second-longest sentences for one of more than 1,000 people charged in the Capitol attack that sought to stop Congress from certifying Democrat Joe Biden’s November 2020 election victory over Republican Trump.

Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes, convicted in November of seditious conspiracy and other charges, was sentenced by Mehta last week to 18 years in prison, the longest of any sentence. Three of Rhodes’ co-defendants were sentenced to between four and 12 years in prison. Two of those three were acquitted of seditious conspiracy – a felony charge involving an attempt to “overthrow, overthrow, or forcibly destroy the government of the United States” – but convicted on other counts.

Minuta, who provided security for Trump ally Roger Stone at political rallies on the day of the attack, entered the Capitol with other oath keepers and, according to prosecutors, pushed police officers shouting obscene language.

In their sentencing note, prosecutors said Minuta failed to accept responsibility and “continued to spread lies and sow mistrust in the criminal investigation” by referring to himself and the other defendants in the case. January 6 as “political prisoners”.

Vallejo was not at the Capitol the day of the attack. Prosecutors said he stayed at a hotel in suburban Virginia where oath keepers organized a “quick reaction force” and stashed firearms to be quickly transported to Washington if needed.

Lawyers for Minuta and Vallejo are expected to tell the judge on Thursday that the evidence against their clients was thin and did not warrant the steep sentences recommended by the prosecution.

“The government’s condemnation statement is a farce,” Minuta’s attorney, William Shipley, wrote in his sentencing note to the judge.

Matthew Peed, Vallejo’s attorney, intends to ask the judge not to award his client any more incarceration time beyond the amount he has already served.

Peed sought to shift the blame to Trump, who, in a speech to supporters shortly before the riot, repeated his false claims that the election had been stolen from him by widespread voter fraud and urged them to march. on the Capitol and “fight like hell”.

“The tragedy of January 6 is that hundreds of law-abiding people like Edward Vallejo were lied to by the sitting president and told certification was an orchestrated assault on our democracy,” Peed wrote.

“The people who broke the law that day were not members of al-Qaeda bombing the World Trade Center or even ‘traitors’ who consciously chose to attack democracy rather than accept that they validly lost. They were patriotic Americans who mistakenly – very wrongly – believed that they were defending democracy against corrupt officials,” Peed added.

Joseph Hackett and David Moerschel, co-defendants in the trial in which Minuta and Vallejo were convicted, are due to be sentenced on Friday. They too were found guilty of seditious conspiracy and other crimes. The prosecution recommended a sentence of 12 years in prison for Hackett and 10 for Moerschel.

(Reporting by Sarah N. Lynch; Editing by Will Dunham)

Leave a Comment