Two more members of the far-right extremist group the Oath Keepers—David Moerschel and Joseph Hackett—were set to be sentenced Friday for seditious conspiracy and other crimes related to the deadly January 6, 2021 insurrection upon the U.S. Capitol.
The same judge who sentenced those two Oath Keepers, U.S. District Judge Amit Mehta, will preside over Moerschel’s and Hacketts’ sentencing hearings.
Prosecutors are requesting a 12-year prison sentence for Hackett and a 10-year sentence for Moerschel.
Both men were among a group of Oath Keepers who breached the Capitol on January 6, clad in paramilitary gear, amid the violent mob’s attempt to stop Congress in its Constitutional duty to certify President Biden’s 2020 electoral college victory over then-President Trump.
During their initial trials, prosecutors had argued that on the day of the deadly riot, Hackett and Moerschel joined a group of 12 others as the “boots on the ground,” forcing their way into the Capitol building with “brute strength.”
They described Hackett as a low-level leader in the Oath Keepers, and pointed to his call for the arrest of “corrupt politicians” as foreshadowing his actions on January 6.
Hackett’s defense attorney has asked Mehta to “primarily focus on alternatives to incarceration” in issuing a sentence.
Moerschel asked to be sentenced to home detention, with his lawyer saying his client “was along for the very foolish ride.”
Prosecutors, though, pushed back on that description, noting that Moerschel had left weapons including a semi-automatic AR-15 rifle in a Virginia hotel. Prosecutors during Thursday’s hearings described stashed firearms and other members of the Oath Keepers at that hotel as part of a “quick reaction force” if needed.
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.