Far-Right Oath Keepers Members Set to Face Sentencing for Sedition in US Capitol Attack

WASHINGTON – Two additional members of the far-right Oath Keepers militia group are poised to be sentenced on Thursday for their involvement in seditious conspiracy and other crimes stemming from the January 6, 2021, assault on the U.S. Capitol by fervent supporters of then-President Donald Trump.

Federal prosecutors have requested that U.S. District Judge Amit Mehta impose 17-year prison terms on Roberto Minuta and Edward Vallejo, who were convicted in January alongside two other Oath Keepers members.

If the judge adheres to the prosecution’s recommendation, these sentences would be among the lengthiest handed down to any of the 1,000-plus individuals charged in the Capitol attack, which aimed to impede Congress from certifying the electoral victory of Democrat Joe Biden over Republican Trump in the November 2020 election.

Recently, Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes, found guilty in November of seditious conspiracy and other charges, received the longest sentence to date from Mehta – 18 years behind bars. Three of Rhodes’ co-defendants received prison terms ranging from four to 12 years. Although two of them were acquitted of seditious conspiracy, which is a felony charge encompassing an attempt to forcibly “overthrow, put down, or destroy” the U.S. government, they were convicted on other felony counts.

Minuta, known for providing security to Trump ally Roger Stone during political rallies on the day of the attack, entered the Capitol with fellow Oath Keepers and, according to prosecutors, aggressively confronted law enforcement officers while uttering profanities.

Prosecutors argued in their sentencing memorandum that Minuta has shown a lack of accountability, persistently “spreading falsehoods and sowing mistrust in the criminal investigation” by referring to himself and other January 6 defendants as “political prisoners.”

Vallejo did not physically participate in the Capitol breach. Prosecutors noted that he stayed at a suburban Virginia hotel, where the Oath Keepers had established a “quick reaction force” and concealed firearms that could be promptly transported to Washington if necessary.

Attorneys representing Minuta and Vallejo are expected to contest the prosecution’s assertion that the evidence against their clients was insufficient to warrant the severe sentences being recommended.

Minuta’s lawyer, William Shipley, stated in his sentencing memorandum to the judge, “The government’s sentencing statement is a sham.”

Matthew Peed, Vallejo’s attorney, plans to ask the judge not to extend his client’s period of incarceration beyond the time already served.

Peed sought to shift blame onto Trump, who, during a speech to supporters shortly before the riot, reiterated baseless claims of election fraud and encouraged them to march on the Capitol and “fight like hell.”

“The tragedy of January 6 is that hundreds of law-abiding individuals like Edward Vallejo were misled by the incumbent president, who propagated the falsehood that the certification process amounted to an orchestrated attack on our democracy,” Peed wrote.

He further added, “The individuals who violated the law that day were not members of al Qaeda bombing the World Trade Center or even ‘traitors’ consciously opting to assault democracy instead of accepting their legitimate defeat. They were patriotic Americans who, albeit gravely mistaken, believed they were defending democracy against corrupt officials.”

Joseph Hackett and David Moerschel, co-defendants in the trial in which Minuta and Vallejo were found guilty, are slated for sentencing on Friday. They too were convicted of seditious conspiracy and other crimes. The prosecution has recommended prison terms of 12 years for Hackett and 10 years for Moerschel.

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