WASHINGTON (AP) — Four members of the Oath Keepers were convicted Monday of seditious conspiracy in the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol attack in the second major trial of far-right extremists accused of plotting to forcibly keep President Donald Trump in power.
The verdict against Joseph Hackett of Sarasota, Florida; Roberto Minuta of Prosper, Texas; David Moerschel of Punta Gorda, Florida; and Edward Vallejo of Phoenix comes weeks after after a different jury convicted the group’s leader, Stewart Rhodes, in the mob’s attack that halted the certification of President Joe Biden’s electoral victory.
It’s another major victory for the Justice Department, which is also trying to secure sedition convictions against the former leader of the Proud Boys and four associates. The trial against Enrique Tarrio and his lieutenants opened earlier this month in Washington and is expected to last several weeks.
The Washington jury deliberated for about 12 hours over three days before delivering their guilty verdict on the rarely used charge, which carries up to 20 years in prison. The four were also convicted of two other conspiracy charges as well as obstructing an official proceeding: Congress’ certification of the 2020 election. Minuta, Hackett and Moerschel were acquitted of lesser charges.
The judge didn’t immediately set a date for sentencing. The judge denied prosecutors’ bid to lock up the men while they await sentencing, finding them not to be a risk of flight. They were ordered to remain in home detention with electronic monitoring.
It was one of the most serious cases brought so far in the sweeping Jan. 6 investigation, which continues to grow two years after the riot. The Justice Department has charged nearly 1,000 people in the riot and the tally increases by the week.
Attorney General Merrick Garland told reporters after the verdict that he is “grateful to the prosecutors, agents and staff for their outstanding work.”
Oath Keepers leader Rhodes and Florida chapter leader Kelly Meggs were convicted of seditious conspiracy in the previous trial that ended in November. They were the first people in decades found guilty at trial of the Civil War-era charge. Three other Oath Keepers were cleared of the charge in that case but were found guilty of other serious crimes. They are all awaiting sentencing.
Lawyers for Moerschel and Minuta suggested after the verdict that their clients were hurt by not being able to stand trial alongside Rhodes because the…