Four members of the Oath Keepers were convicted Monday of seditious conspiracy in the January 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol in the second major trial of far-right extremists accused of plotting to forcibly keep former President Donald Trump in power.
The verdict against Joseph Hackett of Sarasota, Fla., Roberto Minuta of Prosper, Texas, David Moerschel of Punta Gorda, Fla., and Edward Vallejo of Phoenix, Ariz., comes weeks after another jury found the group’s leader, Stewart Rhodes , had condemned. , in the mob attack that stopped the certification of US President Joe Biden’s election victory.
It’s another big win for the US Justice Department, which is also trying to secure sedition convictions against the former leader of the Proud Boys and four associates. The trial of Enrique Tarrio and his lieutenants began earlier this month in Washington and is expected to last several weeks.
Seditious conspiracy is a rarely prosecuted Civil War law that prohibits conspiracy to overthrow or destroy the government and is punishable by up to 20 years in prison.
Rhodes and another Florida-based leader of the group were found guilty of seditious conspiracy in a separate trial in November.
The Justice Department has filed nearly 1,000 cases and the number is rising by the week.
Defense attorneys tried to play down reports of violence as mere gaffe, saying the Oath Keepers came to Washington to provide security at pre-riot events. Taking advantage of the prosecutors’ lack of evidence that the Oath Keepers had an explicit plan to storm the Capitol before January 6, they told the jurors that the extremists who attacked the Capitol acted spontaneously like thousands of other rioters.