The founder of the far-right Oath Keepers militia Stewart Rhodes has been found guilty of seditious conspiracy in the Jan. 6, 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol.
Rhodes and his co-defendant Kelly Meggs have now become the first people in nearly three decades to be found guilty of the extremely rare civil-war-era charge at trial. The charges of seditious conspiracy and obstruction of an official proceeding each carry a sentence of up to 20 years in prison.
Three other Oath Keepers members have pleaded guilty to seditious conspiracy.
The last time the Department of Justice secured a conviction at trial for seditious conspiracy was in the 1995 prosecution of Islamic militants who plotted to bomb landmarks in New York City.
It marked the biggest test yet for the justice department in its efforts to hold accountable those responsible for the Capitol attack by the supporters of former president Donald Trump in a failed attempt to overturn Trump’s election defeat.
The verdicts against Rhodes and four co-defendants came after three days of deliberations by the 12-member jury. It was the highest-profile trial so far to emerge from the deadly assault on the Capitol.
Rhodes, a Yale Law School-educated former Army paratrooper and disbarred attorney, was accused by prosecutors during an eight-week trial of plotting to use force to try to block Congress from certifying Democratic President Joe Biden’s election victory over Republican Trump. Rhodes was convicted on three counts and acquitted on two.
While Meggs was also found guilty of seditious conspiracy, the three others – Kenneth Harrelson, Jessica Watkins, and Thomas Caldwell – were acquitted of that charge.
All five defendants were convicted of obstruction of an official proceeding – the congressional certification of the election results – with mixed verdicts on a handful of other charges.