Oath Keepers Founder Sentenced to 18 Years

The stiffest punishment yet for a January 6 seditionist.

Stewart Rhodes, Oath Keeper leader, fatass loser POS

YahooNews (“Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes sentenced to 18 years for role in Jan. 6 insurrection“):

Stewart Rhodes, the founder and leader of the Oath Keepers, was sentenced Thursday to 18 years in federal prison for seditious conspiracy in connection with the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol.

Prosecutors had sought 25 years. Still, it was the longest sentence handed down to date for the more than 500 people convicted in the Jan. 6 cases. Earlier this month, Peter Schwartz of Kentucky was sentenced to 14 years for attacking police officers with pepper spray and a chair as he stormed the Capitol.

Rhodes was convicted in November following a two-month trial that showcased the far-right extremist group’s violent plot to overturn President Biden’s election and keep former President Donald Trump in power. His lawyers said he will appeal.

Here’s everything we know about the landmark case and the Justice Department’s ongoing efforts to prosecute those who were involved in the deadly insurrection.

The seditious conspiracy law was enacted after the Civil War to deter Southerners from conspiring against the U.S. government, and occurs when two or more people conspire to “overthrow, put down, or to destroy by force” those in power. Sedition has rarely been charged in the United States.

According to the Associated Press, the last time U.S. prosecutors brought a seditious conspiracy case prior to the Rhodes case was in 2010, when nine members of the Hutaree militia in Michigan were charged with inciting an uprising against the government. They were acquitted on the sedition conspiracy charges at a 2012 trial.

Rhodes and 10 of his co-conspirators were the first Jan. 6 defendants charged with sedition.

Once again, the punishment fits the crime. I gather that federal prisoners are eligible for for parole after serving at least a third of their sentence, or 6 years in this case. I suspect that, given the nature of this crime, Stewart will serve substantially more than that.*

As noted in the comments, the judge laid into Rhodes.

WaPo (“Oath Keepers leader Rhodes sentenced to 18 years for Jan. 6 seditious conspiracy“):

“You sir, present an ongoing threat and a peril to this country, to the republic and the very fabric of our democracy,” Judge Amit P. Mehta told Rhodes.

The judge said he had never before expressed such a belief about a defendant appearing in his court. He described Rhodes, who founded his far-right, anti-government group in 2009, as a disturbingly charismatic figure who manipulated dozens of his followers into coming to Washington on Jan. 6, 2021.

“They too are victims, victims of the lies, the propaganda, the rhetoric and ultimately the intention that you conveyed,” Mehta said.

Noting that Rhodes has continued to spread conspiracy theories and violent rhetoric in interviews from behind bars, Mehta predicted, “The moment you are released you will be prepared to take up arms against your government.”

[…]

Before Rhodes’s punishment, no Jan. 6 defendant who did not assault police had been sentenced to more than eight years in prison, and only one man had been sentenced to more than a decade — Peter Schwartz, who had 38 prior convictions, received just over 14 years after assaulting four officers with a dangerous weapon. Rhodes assaulted no one; in court Thursday, he called the testimony of officers wounded in the riot “heart-rending,” but “bizarre” and “offensive” to include in his case.

But Mehta said seditious conspiracy is “among the most serious crimes an individual American can commit,” more dangerous than a single assaultive act.

As I’ve noted many times over the years, my strong preference is for law enforcement officials, prosecutors, and, especially, judges to refrain from grandstanding commentary. I’ll make an exception for this particular traitor.

________________

*UPDATE: Commenters point out that I am mistaken. The first Google result was the 1984 United States Parole Commission Rules and Procedures Manual. Ironically, Congress rewrote the law later that year:

Under the Sentencing Reform Act of 1984, Congress eliminated parole for defendants convicted of federal crimes committed after November 1, 1987. Going forward, these offenders receive a period of “supervised release” to be served at the end of the federal prison sentence. Federal prisoners convicted of crimes committed on or before November 1, 1987, remain(ed) under the old federal parole system run by the U.S. Parole Commission (USPC or “federal parole board”).

FILED UNDER: Crime, , , , , , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. daryl and his brother darryl says:

    The Judge really laid into this guy. If you get a chance to read more about his sentencing of Rhodes, you should.

    James – my comments go to moderation and never come out. I’ve tried using another name, and an alternate e-mail. Can you help me out? E-mail me if you have questions.

    [I’ve got a day job, so can’t monitor the moderation queue on a constant basis. No idea why the system is flagging your comments but I tweaked the advance settings of CleanTalk in a way that may help. -jj]

  2. dazedandconfused says:

    James, Link to Yahoo needs a fix. Goes to the wrong place. [Fixed, thanks-jj]

  3. Kathy says:

    Sometimes when I’m feeling particularly angry and vindictive, I gravitate towards the Queen of Hearts’ Court Principles:

    1) Sentence first. Verdict afterwards.
    2) Off with their heads!

    People have no idea how lucky they are I’ve learned to let anger subside before acting.

  4. daryl and his brother darryl says:
  5. Mikey says:

    As I’ve noted many times over the years, my strong preference is for law enforcement officials, prosecutors, and, especially, judges to refrain from grandstanding commentary. I’ll make an exception for this particular traitor.

    Hear, hear. As I think I’ve said before, I’ve spent my entire adult life working in the defense of our nation, its people, and the Constitution. I have less than zero patience for seditious assholes like Rhodes and the only problem I have with his sentence is it isn’t double what it is.

  6. CSK says:

    This is the story of Stewart Rhodes’ son. It’s not exactly Life with Father:

    http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-63709446

  7. Neil Hudelson says:

    All these articles leave out a very important fact about Stewart Rhodes, one that can never be brought up too often.

    He has one eye because he dropped his .22 pistol and shot himself in the face.

    How you can be the world’s unluckiest and luckiest man simultaneously. Very unlucky to shoot yourself in the face. Incredibly lucky to be the only person in the world with the privilege of having shot Stewart Rhodes in the face.

  8. JohnSF says:

    @daryl and his brother darryl:
    Just been reading some of Judge Mehta’s statement.
    My word, but he was LIT UP.
    Anyone know where the full transcript is available?
    Given he also approved the Congressional committee demand for Trump’s financial records, he’s surely got guts to spare. Anyone know what the protective arrangements are for a judge in his position?

    @Neil Hudelson:
    You are a very bad man Mr. Hudelson,
    A. Very. Bad. Man.
    Well done. 😉

  9. DK says:

    18 years is not enough in my opinion. He has shown no remorse and deserves the Benedict Arnold treatment.

    Lock this terrorist up and throw away the key.

    LOCK HIM UP

  10. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @JohnSF: In court, a combo of US Marshall’s and CSOs (Court Security Officers, usually retired military and police) AFAIK, US Marshall’s outside of court when conditions call for it. The FBI investigates all threats to judges (or did when my parent’s US judge neighbor got his car shot up).

  11. CSK says:

    @DK:

    The MAGAs are gnashing their teeth, rending their garments, and beating their breasts over this. Rhodes is a great patriot, you know.

  12. daryl and his brother darryl says:

    One of Rhodes’ cohorts, Kelly Megs, just got 12 yrs for the same crime.
    This is the “find out” stage of “fuq around and find out.”

  13. DAllenABQ says:

    There is no parole in the federal system. Good time is fixed by statute at 54 days per year which means he will serve about 84% of his sentence; a bit more than 15 years.

  14. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @CSK: Jeebus. Thanx for that.

  15. Gustopher says:

    @Neil Hudelson:

    All these articles leave out a very important fact about Stewart Rhodes, one that can never be brought up too often.

    He has one eye because he dropped his .22 pistol and shot himself in the face.

    That’s how he lost an eye, but not why he wears an eyepatch. He had a prosthetic eye, which he would often use, but, according to his wife … HE DIDN’T CLEAN HIMSELF.

    He lost his eye because he shot himself in the face. He lost his eye socket (or at least enough to hold in the prosthetic) because he is a filthy person who let it get infected.

    (This is what I read on the internet, and I have done only slight verification)

  16. mistermix says:

    I gather that federal prisoners are eligible for for parole after serving at least a third of their sentence, or 6 years in this case.

    Nope! You have to serve at least 85% of your sentence, so he’s in for 15 years plus change.

    Also, if they’re paroled a lot of these traitors will violate their parole, probably by possession of weapons, so a lot of them will probably be going back in stir.

    Ref: https://www.wklaw.com/common-federal-crimes/#:~:text=In%20federal%20court%20you%20will,50%25%20of%20your%20actual%20sentence.

  17. Flat Earth Luddite says:

    @Kathy:

    People have no idea how lucky they are I’ve learned to let anger subside before acting.

    This is why Luddite doesn’t own weapons anymore. Society is much happier with this limitation.

    @Mikey:
    Take comfort in the probability that he’ll mouth off to the wrong mf’er inside and wind up dead, crippled, or with an additional 20+ years.

  18. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @DK:

    deserves the Benedict Arnold treatment.

    He should be permitted to escape to England where he dies of gout in London 2o or so years from now?

    Doesn’t seem satisfying to me somehow. ETA: Lacks closure.

  19. JohnSF says:

    @DK:
    From Britain comes the cry, good old Benedict!
    At least he didn’t betray his country!
    🙂

  20. DK says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker: Stewart Rhodes’s name should be forever synonymous with traitor. That’s justice.

  21. James Joyner says:

    @DAllenABQ: @mistermix: The first Google result was the 1984 United States Parole Commission Rules and Procedures Manual. Ironically, Congress rewrote the law later that year:

    Under the Sentencing Reform Act of 1984, Congress eliminated parole for defendants convicted of federal crimes committed after November 1, 1987. Going forward, these offenders receive a period of “supervised release” to be served at the end of the federal prison sentence. Federal prisoners convicted of crimes committed on or before November 1, 1987, remain(ed) under the old federal parole system run by the U.S. Parole Commission (USPC or “federal parole board”).