Stewart Rhodes, the leader of the far-right Oath Keepers group, was found guilty Tuesday of seditious conspiracy over his role in the Jan. 6, 2021 riots, a win for the Justice Department as it pursues the little used charge for members of multiple extremist groups who contributed to the chaos at the Capitol.
Florida chapter leader Kelly Meggs was also found guilty of seditious conspiracy, while all five defendants on trial were found guilty of obstruction of an official proceeding.
The trial brings the most significant verdict yet in a Justice Department investigation that has led to charges for more than 700 individuals but where many of its most high-profile cases, including other members of extremist groups, have yet to reach their conclusion.
Seditious conspiracy carries a sentence of up to 20 years in prison and hasn’t been used successfully since a 1990s terrorism case.
The verdict is especially significant in the case of Rhodes, a Yale-educated lawyer who never entered the Capitol that day but instead communicated with other Oath Keepers as they forced their way into the building and through the halls of Congress.
While Kenneth Harrelson, Jessica Watkins and Thomas Caldwell were found not guilty on seditious conspiracy charges, each was found guilty on multiple other felonies.
The five were among nearly a dozen Oath Keepers charged with seditious conspiracy, with four more facing trial in December.
Members of the right-wing Proud Boys are also due in court on seditious conspiracy charges next month, including the group’s leader, Enrique Tarrio, who, like Rhodes, never entered the Capitol and was not present in Washington that day.
—Updated at 5:47 p.m.