Prosecutors asked a federal judge Friday to sentence Stewart Rhodes, the founder of the far-right Oath Keepers, to 25 years in prison.
A Washington, DC, jury in November convicted Rhodes of seditious conspiracy for his role in the January 6, 2021, attack on the US Capitol. Since the riot, prosecutors have secured more than a dozen such convictions for people associated with the far-right extremist groups they say plotted to forcibly stop the peaceful transfer of presidential power from then-President Donald Trump to Joe Biden.
The Justice Department’s request provides insight – for the first time in more than a decade – into how prosecutors believe a conviction for seditious conspiracy should be punished.
The filing requests individual sentences for all nine Oath Keepers members and associates convicted by a jury – six of whom were convicted of seditious conspiracy. The lowest sentence prosecutors asked for among the group was 10 years in prison for Oath Keeper David Moerschel.
Though the filing reflects prosecutors’ request, Judge Amit Mehta will ultimately decide how much time each defendant will serve. Mehta could issue a sentence that exceeds the prosecutors’ request or decide to sentence them to far less than the maximum.
During the more than seven-week-long trial, prosecutors argued the riot was more than just a political protest that got out of control, but rather a violent attack on American democracy. To bolster their argument, prosecutors presented to the jury hundreds of messages, audio recordings and videos of the defendants’ revolutionary rhetoric in the wake of Biden’s 2020 presidential victory and of their actions as they moved across the Capitol grounds during the riot.
Defense attorneys countered those arguments by telling the jury that the inflammatory recordings of the defendants were nothing more than “locker room talk,” and arguing that the militia had no uniformed plan.
This story has been updated with additional details.