DOJ Asks for 25-Year Prison Sentence for Oath Keepers Leader Convicted in January 6 Sedition Case

May 8, 2023

The Department of Justice has recommended that Stewart Rhodes, leader of the far-right extremist group the Oath Keepers, spend 25 years behind bars for his role in the January 6, 2021 insurrection on the U.S. Capitol.

A jury found Rhodes guilty of seditious conspiracy in November. The DOJ filed its sentencing recommendation on Friday, also recommending that the head of the Oath Keepers’ Florida chapter, Kelly Meggs who was convicted along with Rhodes, receive 21 years in prison.

The DOJ recommended that seven other convicted Oath Keepers and co-conspirators be slapped with 10 to 18 years behind bars. 

Until recently, “seditious conspiracy” had rarely been prosecuted. However, in October the former leader of the Proud Boys, Jeremy Bertino, pleaded guilty to seditious conspiracy for his connections to the January 6 insurrection and the attempt to block Congress from certifying President Biden’s victory in the 2020 presidential election.

Last week, four other former members of the Proud Boys, including former chair Henry “Enrique” Tarrio who was not in Washington on January 6, guilty of seditious conspiracy. Federal prosecutors had argued that the Proud Boys saw themselves as soldiers in then-President Trump’s “army, fighting to keep their leader in power no matter what the law or the courts had to say about it.”

In its sentencing memo Friday, the DOJ stated, “Using their positions of prominence within, and in affiliation with, the Oath Keepers organization, these defendants played a central and damning role in opposing by force the government of the United States, breaking the solemn oath many of them swore as members of the United States Armed Forces.”

Seditious conspiracy carries a maximum 20-year prison sentence, but many of the Oath Keepers were convicted on multiple other felony counts, as well. 

Rhodes’ conviction holds particular significance since he also never entered the Capitol on January 6, though he remained in communication with other co-conspirators through a walkie-talkie app.

The DOJ further asserted that Rhodes, a Yale Law School graduate, deserved the most severe punishment among the Oath Keepers because he had “exploited his vast public influence as the leader,” adding that he “used his talents for manipulation to goad more than twenty other American citizens into using force, intimidation, and violence to seek to impose their preferred result on a U.S. presidential election.”

PHOTO Source: Tyler Merbler

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