David Moerschel, a member of the far-right extremist group the Oath Keepers, was sentenced to three years in prison 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, presided over Moerschel’s sentencing, and was set to also preside Friday over the sentencing of another Oath Keeper, Joseph Hackett.
Prosecutors had requested a 10-year prison sentence for Moerschel and are requesting a 12-year prison sentence for Hackett.
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.” It was referred to as a stack formation that prosecutors said acted as a “battering ram,” to push through the mob and into the Capitol. He was also alleged to have been part of a group looking for then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi inside the Capitol during the riot.
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.
“It is true that Mr. Moerschel’s conduct was of grave concern,” Mehta said during Friday’s sentencing hearing. “The weaponry is scary enough as it is. And we don’t need to be told of the damage that kind of weapon can cause.”
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, five more former Proud Boys 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.