Jury Finds Oath Keepers Rhodes And Meggs Guilty Of Seditious Conspiracy
WASHINGTON, Nov 29 (Reuters) - Oath Keepers founder Elmer Stewart Rhodes, and Kelly Meggs, another leader of the right-wing group, were found guilty on Tuesday of seditious conspiracy for the attack on the U.S. Capitol by Donald Trump supporters, an important win for the Justice Department.
The verdicts against Rhodes and four co-defendants , after three days of deliberations by the 12-member jury, came in the highest-profile trial so far to emerge from the deadly Jan. 6, 2021, assault on the U.S. Capitol, a failed bid to overturn then-President Trump's 2020 election defeat.
Rhodes, a Yale Law School-educated former Army paratrooper and disbarred attorney, was accused by prosecutors during an eight-week trial of plotting to use force to try to block Congress from certifying Democratic President Joe Biden's election victory over Republican Trump. Rhodes was convicted on three counts and acquitted on two.
One of his co-defendants, Kelly Meggs, was also found guilty of seditious conspiracy while the three others - Kenneth Harrelson, Jessica Watkins and Thomas Caldwell - were acquitted of that charge.
All five defendants were convicted of obstruction of an official proceeding - the congressional certification of the election results - with mixed verdicts on a handful of other charges.
The charges of seditious conspiracy and obstruction of an official proceeding each carry a sentence of up to 20 years in prison.
Two more high-profile trials related to the attack are due to begin next month. Four other Oath Keepers members face seditious conspiracy charges, as do members of the right-wing Proud Boys group, including its former chairman Enrique Tarrio.
James Lee Bright, an attorney for Rhodes, said he thinks the verdict will inform how the Justice Department proceeds on the other seditious conspiracy prosecutions.
"The return in this, even though we're not pleased with it, probably speaks to the fact that the DOJ is going to go full steam ahead in like fashion on all the others," Bright told reporters outside court.
Rhodes, who wears an eye patch after accidentally shooting himself in the face with his own gun, is one of the most prominent defendants of the roughly 900 charged over the attack. Meggs, who heads the Oath Keepers' Florida chapter, was the only defendant besides Rhodes in this trial who played a leadership role in the organization.