WASHINGTON — 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; Roberto Minuta of Prosper, Texas; David Moerschel of Punta Gorda; 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.
They are some 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 brought nearly 1,000 cases and the tally increases by the week.
Defense attorneys sought to downplay violent messages as mere bluster and said the Oath Keepers came to Washington to provide security at events before the riot. They seized on prosecutors’ lack of evidence that the Oath Keepers had an explicit plan to storm the Capitol before Jan. 6 and told jurors that the extremists who attacked the Capitol acted spontaneously like thousands of other rioters.
By MICHAEL KUNZELMAN and ALANNA DURKIN RICHER, Associated Press