On Friday, a federal judge sentenced two members of the Oath Keepers militia to fewer than four years in Jail for seditious conspiracy, putting a halt to the government’s efforts to impose harsh sentences on members of the group for their roles in the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol attαck.
David Moerschel and Joseph Hackett, who flew from Florida to join the Oath Keepers in Washington on January 6, were given three-year and three-and-a-half-year terms, respectively.
Judge Amit P. Mehta, who ruled over three different Oath Keepers trials, all of which have now finished, deviated from federal norms in his decisions issued this week in the Federal District Court in Washington. Prosecutors had asked for 12 years for Mr. Moerschel and 10 years for Mr. Hackett.
The pr!son sentences were in stark contrast to those handed down by Judge Mehta last week to the group’s commander, Stewart Rhodes, and one of his deputies, Kelly Meggs.
They were sentenced to 18 and 12 years in pr!son, respectively. The judge was more lenient with members of the Oath Keepers’ hierarchy. Two other people guilty of seditious conspiracy were sentenced to no more than four and a half years in Jail this week.
“Sentencing should not be vengeful; it should not be so harsh simply to be harsh,” Judge Mehta stated at the close of Mr. Moerschel’s hearing.
Mr. Moerschel and Mr. Hackett marched in a “stack” formation headed by Mr. Meggs on the day of the disturbance, forcing their way past police officers and into the Capitol.
Both were also part of a group chat for Florida members in which Mr. Rhodes pushed individuals to come to Washington to contest the election results.
“We need to make those senators very uncomfortable with all of us being a few hundred feet away,” Mr. Rhodes wrote to the group two weeks before the Jan. 6 deadline.
Prosecutors highlighted on Friday that Mr. Moerschel had brought his own guns with him before the riot, storing his AR-15 rifle and semiautomatic handgun among a cache of firearms collected by members in Virginia the day before.
You can see the post shared by The New York Times Twitter account. You can also find more information about Two Additional Oath Keepers Members Sentenced For Sedition in Jan. 6 Case by reading the below tweet:-
A federal judge sentenced two members of the Oath Keepers militia to less than four years in prison for seditious conspiracy on Friday, issuing lighter sentences than prosecutors had sought.https://t.co/1tFMvsHTsu
— The New York Times (@nytimes) June 3, 2023
They told the judge that they believed Mr. Moerschel came to Washington ready to follow “the impulses of madmen” like Mr. Rhodes and Mr. Meggs and that he was prepared to take up guns in Washington if the Oath Keeper leaders or former President Donald J. Trump called on him to do so.
Judge Mehta decided that each man’s actions on Jan. 6 constituted an act of terrorism and imposed a sentencing enhancement that raised their incarceration terms marginally.
On Friday, he appeared to accept assurances that the two men had come to regard their involvement with the Oath Keepers as tragically wrong, driven by loud and strong voices within the group and on conservative platforms and social media.
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“Choices aren’t made in a vacuum; we make choices based on the information available to us,” said Mr. Hackett’s lawyer, Angela Halim.
Judge Mehta frequently highlighted in giving the Oath Keeper sentences this week that even those relatively junior members of the group who had not directly engaged in violence with the police had nonetheless worsened the turmoil during the riot by descending on the Capitol as an organized militia.
“The danger is greater when you act with others than when you act alone,” he remarked. “When the act is against the government, it makes the conduct particularly dangerous.”
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