Jury Finds Four Oath Keepers Guilty of Seditious Conspiracy

Capitol attack trial was split off from that of Rhodes
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 23, 2023 4:19 PM CST
Jury Finds Four Oath Keepers Guilty of Seditious Conspiracy
Members of the Oath Keepers stand outside the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.   (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta, File)

A federal jury on Monday convicted four members of the Oath Keepers militia of seditious conspiracy, deciding they'd plotted to use force to keep former President Donald Trump in office. Roberto Minuta, 38; Joseph Hackett, 52; David Moerschel, 45; and Edward Vallejo, 64, also were found guilty of obstructing and conspiring to obstruct lawmakers and Congress in general, the Washington Post reports. "They claimed to wrap themselves in the Constitution, but they trampled it," said prosecutor Jeffrey Nestler in the trial's closing arguments. "They ignored the will of the people" while having "the audacity to claim to be oath-keepers."

The four men's case was split from the trial of Stewart Rhodes, leader of the Oath Keepers, and others because of limited space in the courtroom. In November, Rhodes also was found guilty of seditious conspiracy. Prosecutors said these four ranked lower in the far-right militia group than those in the other trial, more like troops than organizers. Hackett and Moerschel forced their way into the US Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, with a dozen others, the government said. Minuta came behind them with another group that fought officers inside, and Vallejo, an Army veteran, stayed with a stash of guns in a hotel in Virginia. Prosecutors said he repeatedly texted fellow conspirators that he was ready to join them at the Capitol but received no response.

When officers pushed Minuta and others out of the building, prosecutors said, he shouted "All that's left is the Second Amendment!" The Oath Keepers met for dinner after the riot at an Olive Garden in Virginia and began planning their next move, per the Post. But they scattered, one member said, when they heard federal agents were looking for them. The jury deliberated for about 15 hours over three days before returning its verdict Monday, per the New York Times. Hackett and Moerschel were acquitted of damaging Capitol doors. US District Judge Amit Mehta allowed all four to await sentencing while under house arrest. (Read more Capitol attack stories.)

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