Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes was sentenced Thursday to 18 years for seditious conspiracy and other charges related to the deadly January 6, 2021 insurrection upon the U.S. Capitol.
Earlier this month, the Department of Justice had recommended that Rhodes be sentenced to 25 years behind bars.
In November, a jury found Stewart Rhodes guilty of seditious conspiracy linked to his actions during the bloody attempt to overturn the 2020 Presidential election. The head of the far-right extremist group’s Florida chapter, Kelly Meggs was found guilty of the charge along with Rhodes. Meggs is also set to be sentenced later Thursday.
Seditious conspiracy carries a maximum 20-year sentence. Until recently, the crime had rarely been prosecuted. However, in October the former leader of another right-wing extremist group, the Proud Boys, Jeremy Bertino, pleaded guilty to seditious conspiracy for his connections to the January 6 insurrection.
On May 4, former Proud Boys Henry “Enrique” Tarrio, Ethan Nordean, Zachary Rehl,Carmen Hernandez and Joe Biggs were also found guilty of seditious conspiracy related to January 6.
A fifth former Proud Boys member, Dominic Pezzola, who was tried along with the others, was found not guilty of seditious conspiracy but he was found guilty of guilty of assaulting police, robbing police of personal property (he had stolen a police officer’s riot shield), destruction of government property and other charges.
And in January four additional Oath Keepers were also found guilty of seditious conspiracy.
Rhodes is the first of those found guilty of the crime to be sentenced. He called for a “civil war” multiple times in the run-up to January 6. During his trial he was found to have organized paramilitary groups to help storm the Capitol in an attempt to stop Congress in its Constitutional duty of certifying President Biden’s electoral college victory over then-President Trump.
His sentencing hearing began at 9:30am ET in federal court in Washington. Meggs’ sentencing was scheduled for 1:30pm ET—about half an hour after Rhodes’ sentence was handed down.
So far, prosecutors have brought criminal charges against more than 1,000 people following the assault on the U.S. Capitol. Four people died during the insurrection, and five police officers died of various causes following the attack.