2 More Oath Keepers Face Sentencing for Seditious Conspiracy in January 6 Cases

June 1, 2023

Two more members of the Oath Keepers are set to be sentenced Thursday after being convicted of seditious conspiracy and other crimes surrounding the deadly January 6, 2021 insurrection upon the U.S. Capitol.

U.S. District Judge Amit Mehta, who also presided over the seditious conspiracy sentencing of Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes and the head of the  far-right extremist group’s Florida chapter, Kelly Meggs, will preside Thursday over the sentencing of Roberto Minuta and Edward Vallejo.

The latter pair were found guilty of seditious conspiracy on January 23, along with fellow Oath Keepers Joseph Hackett and David Moerschel.

Federal prosecutors are asking Judge Mehta to sentence Minuta and Vallejo to 17 years in prison each. Last month the judge sentenced Rhodes to 18 years and Meggs to 12 for their roles in the mob’s violent attempt to stop Congress in its Constitutional duty to certify President Biden’s 2020 electoral college victory over then-President Trump.

Minuta had provided a security detail to Trump ally Roger Stone on the day of the attack. He entered the Capitol with other Oath Keepers and prosecutors said he pushed past police officers while screaming obscenities. 

Prosecutors asserted during his sentencing hearing that he has failed to accept responsibility and has “continued to spread lies and sow distrust in the [January 6] criminal investigation” by referring to himself and other defendants as “political prisoners.”

Prosecutors said Vallejo, who was not at the Capitol on January 6, stayed at a hotel in suburban Virginia where Oath Keepers had stashed firearms to stage a “quick reaction force” if needed.

Attorneys for both defendants are requesting lighter sentences than the prosecution recommends, asserting that the evidence against their clients is thin.

Minuta’s attorney called the prosecution’s recommendation a “farce,” while Vallejo’s attorney asked that his client receive no more prison time beyond what he has already served. He also sought to shift blame to former President Trump, who repeated false claims of voter fraud and in his speech earlier in the day had used charged language exhorting to crowd to “fight like hell.”

Until recently, “seditious conspiracy” had rarely been prosecuted. However, in October the former leader of another right-wing extremist group, the Proud Boys, Jeremy Bertino, pleaded guilty to the crime 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.

According to the Justice Department, more than 1,033 suspects have been arrested in nearly all 50 states and the District of Columbia related to the assault on the U.S. Capitol. A reported more than 500 of them have been sentenced, with more than half receiving prison terms ranging from a week to over 14 years.

Four people died during the insurrection, and five police officers died of various causes following the attack.

PHOTO Source: Tyler Merbler

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