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Oath Keepers founder sentenced for role in January 6 riot

Elmer Stewart Rhodes, Founder of the Oath Keepers
Stewart Rhodes Oath Keepers
Posted at 12:01 PM, May 25, 2023
and last updated 2023-05-25 15:50:02-04

Stewart Rhodes, founder of far-right group the Oath Keepers, was sentenced to 18 years for seditious conspiracy in connection with the January 6, 2021, U.S. Capitol riot.

Rhodes becomes the first person charged with plotting an armed rebellion to keep President Joe Biden out of office in 2020 to be sentenced for seditious conspiracy.

According to a report by the Associated Press, the judge told Rhodes that he is a threat to the U.S., saying it’s clear Rhodes "wants democracy in this country to devolve into violence."

"The moment you are released, whenever that may be, you will be ready to take up arms against your government," U.S. District Judge Amit Mehta said.

The report also states that before his sentencing, Rhodes told the judge, "I’m a political prisoner, and like President Trump, my only crime is opposing those who are destroying our country."

A second leader of the Oath Keepers, Kelly Meggs, is expected to receive his sentence later Thursday.

Federal prosecutors rarely charge people with seditious conspiracy, a charge that dates back to the Civil War.

It's one of the most serious charges faced by those arrested in the insurrection.

In November, Rhodes and Meggs were found guilty of seditious conspiracy, and during a subsequent trial held in January, four additional Oath Keepers were also convicted of this rarely used charge.

More members of the Oath Keepers will be sentenced on Friday and next week.

This sentencing comes weeks after former Proud Boys leader Enrique Tarrio was convicted on a seditious conspiracy charge for orchestrating a plot for members of his far-right extremist group to block the transfer of presidential power. The members of the Proud Boys organization will face sentencing for their actions in August and September.

SEE MORE: Ex-Proud Boys leader guilty of Jan. 6 sedition plot

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