Jan. 6: Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes sentenced to 18 years in prison for sedition

This is the first seditious conspiracy conviction for a defendant charged in the Capitol attack.

A federal judge on Thursday sentenced Stewart Rhodes, the founder of the Oath Keepers movement to 18 years in prison for his role in the attack at the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. The court accepted the recommendation of the government and prosecutors to extend Rhodes' sentence by considering terrorism charges. The sentence reflects his leadership at the head of what the judge considers a seditious conspiracy.

The 58-year-old's sentence is now the longest one ever handed down to a defendant in connection with the Capitol attack. U.S. District Judge Amit Mehta agreed with prosecutors that Rhodes "inspired the use of violence" that was consistent with a terrorist act intended to influence government actions.

Judge Metha was particularly harsh on Rhodes, whom he called a threat to the country: "Present an ongoing threat and peril to this country... and to the very fabric of our democracy," he said.

Stewart Rhodes announced that he plans to appeal his conviction and sentence. He claims to be a political prisoner and denied that he was involved in any violent acts.

The Justice Department was seeking 25 years in prison for Rhodes, who had already been convicted last year by a jury in a federal court in Washington for sedition and other felony charges.

Sentence for Kelly Meggs and warning from Merrick Garland

Kelly Meggs was also sentenced to 12 years in prison. The 54-year-old was the leader of the Florida chapter of Oath Keepers.

Attorney General Merrick B. Garland stated that "today’s sentences reflect the grave threat the actions of these defendants posed to our democratic institutions." Garland added that “the United States proved at trial that the Oath Keepers plotted for months to violently disrupt the peaceful transfer of power from one administration to the next. The Justice Department will continue to do everything in our power to hold accountable those criminally responsible for the January 6th attack on our democracy."