Oath Keepers Founder Sentenced to 18 Years In Prison for Role in Capitol Attack
Stewart Rhodes, charged with seditious conspiracy, was convicted in November along with other members of his antigovernment group.
A federal judge in Washington D.C. on Thursday sentenced Stewart Rhodes, founder of the far-right group the Oath Keepers, to 18 years in prison for his role in the Jan. 6, 2021 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.
Rhodes, charged with seditious conspiracy, was convicted in November along with other members of his antigovernment group, who prosecutors said tried to block, by force, the transfer of power from President Donald Trump to President Joe Biden when they marched to the Capitol that day.
Earlier this month, prosecutors, in trying to discourage similar, future acts of political violence, requested a prison sentence of 25 years for Rhodes — the harshest handed down so far to individuals convicted in connection to the attack, according to the Associated Press.
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On Thursday, U.S. District Court Judge Amit Mehta applied a maximum terrorism enhancement to Rhodes' sentence, describing Rhodes' actions as an offense against "an institution of American democracy at its most important moment, the transfer of power," according to Politico reporter Kyle Cheney.
The application marked the first time the enhancement was applied to any of the more than 1,000 cases stemming from the Jan. 6 attack.
“He was the one giving the orders,” Mehta said, CNN reported. “He was the one organizing the teams that day. He was the reason they were in fact in Washington DC. Oath Keepers wouldn’t have been there but for Stewart Rhodes, I don’t think anyone contends otherwise. He was the one who gave the order to go, and they went.”
Rhodes' attorneys had sought a sentence of 16 months, which is the amount of time Rhodes has been in custody since his arrest early last year.
Speaking in court before his sentence was handed down, Rhodes called himself "a political prisoner" and argued that members of the Oath Keepers did not take part "in any of the fighting" on Jan. 6.
Rhodes himself did not go inside the Capitol, the AP reported. He testified at trial that Oath Keepers who did, did so on their own.
Other members of the Oath Keepers are slated to be sentenced this week and next week, although prosecutors have said they will seek sentences of 10 to 21 years in prison in those cases.
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