A jury on Monday delivered the Justice Department another victory in its prosecution of the far-right Oath Keepers militia, returning a guilty verdict on rarely used seditious conspiracy charges for all four members on trial in its second prosecution of the group.
Ed Vallejo, Roberto Minuta, Joseph Hackett and David Moerschel all received guilty verdicts for their roles in the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol, in which members of the militia group used a “stack” formation to force their way into the building.
The verdict comes just two months after a separate trial for five other members of the group, with that jury laying down a seditious conspiracy verdict for Stewart Rhodes, the leader of the group.
Seditious conspiracy — used to charge those who plot to overthrow the government — carries a sentence of up to 20 years in prison and hadn’t been used successfully since a 1990s terrorism case.
But the trial brings a dramatic turn in the Justice Department’s record in such cases.
The verdict comes after Rhodes and Florida chapter leader Kelly Meggs were found guilty of seditious conspiracy in November.
Three other members tried alongside the two men were found not guilty of seditious conspiracy but received guilty verdicts on other charges that likewise carry up to 20 years in prison.
The second trial, brought after the nine defendants were split given the complications of bringing such a large group to trial, proved to be an even greater success for the Justice Department.
Each of the four were also found guilty of obstruction of an official proceeding and not guilty on several lesser charges.
The verdict was read as prosecutors in a nearby courtroom laid out their seditious conspiracy case in a trial against members of the ring-wing Proud Boys. Prosecutors in that trial wished to play a video showing its members meeting with Rhodes and other Oath Keepers ahead of the Jan. 6 attack, though it was ultimately not shared with jurors.
According to prosecutors, Hackett and Moerschel were among the Oath Keepers who first breached the Capitol while Minuta entered with a second line of militia members. Vallejo coordinated the quick reaction force (QRF) the Oath Keepers had staged at a hotel in Arlington, Va. stocking various rooms with weapons, ammunition, and other supplies.
Hackett and Moerschel were among those who roamed the building in search of then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.). Minuta engaged with officers before entering the building, telling them at one point, “Get out. Get these cops out. It’s our f—ing building.”
Vallejo communicated with those in the building, telling them, “QRF standing by at hotel. Just say the word.”
—Updated at 3:18 p.m.