By Bruce Thomas and Jan Wolfe
PLANO, Texas (Reuters) – The founder and leader of the far-right Oath Keepers group, Stewart Rhodes, on Friday pleaded guilty to sedition conspiracy charges on January 6, 2021 for his role in the deadly attack on the U.S. Capitol. .
Rhodes made a brief initial appearance in federal court in Plano, Texas. He was in the custody of U.S. marshals, wearing handcuffs and ironing legs.
Rhodes and 10 other members of the group were charged Thursday by the Justice Department https://www.reuters.com/world/us/fbi-arrests-far-right-militia-group-oath-keepers-leader- eat-6-probe -nyt-2022-01-13 With the intent of forcibly attacking the Capitol in an effort to prevent Congress from securing President Joe Biden’s 2020 election victory.
Rhodes, 56, is the most notorious of the more than 725 defendants who have been charged so far with alleged involvement of supporters of former President Donald Trump in an attack on the Capitol. The uprising was fueled by false claims that Trump’s election defeat was the result of fraud.
The Justice Department will ask for Rhodes to be arrested while awaiting trial, a prosecutor said at a hearing on Friday.
James Lee Bright, a Rhodes lawyer, told reporters that Rhodes intends to face charges.
“He thinks he will be acquitted,” Bright said, adding that the Rhodes government will oppose the request for a remand sentence.
“He has no reason to flee. He has no passport. He has nowhere to go,” Bright said.
Rhodes and his associates are the first to be charged with sedition conspiracy for their alleged role in the attack. That charge could carry up to 20 years in prison.
Edward Vallejo, another sworn guardian, appeared in a Phoenix court to face seditious conspiracy charges.
A judge has scheduled a next trial for Vallejo on Jan. 20 to determine whether the 63-year-old will be arrested while awaiting trial. Vallejo’s lawyer stated that he intended to file an innocence allegation at a future hearing.
A prosecutor said at Friday’s trial that the Justice Department would request a pretrial detention for Vallejo.
Rhodes founded Oath Keepers, and the federal government believes his rights are being violated. Its members are largely made up of current and retired military and law enforcement officials.
In the indictment, Rhodes was warned as a leader to prepare his members for a “bloody and desperate struggle.” keepers-communications-2022-01-13 “To prevent Democrat Joe Biden from becoming president.
He says he helped gather members to travel to Washington and played a key role in organizing and supporting the group’s logistics, including the establishment of so-called “rapid reaction forces” that kept firearms outside the city limits.
The indictment also alleges that Rhodes spent thousands of dollars piling up equipment and weapons, including an AR-15 rifle, night-vision goggles and ammunition.
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